October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and local organization Project Safe will kickstart the month with a reception, Through an Open Window. The event will be used to share stories and support for abuse victims.

The paintings showcased are the product of “paint nights” held earlier in September, during which attendees paint in honor of survivors or a work that represents domestic violence, said Kendall Worman, Project Safe’s community involvement and volunteer coordinator.

“We call the event Through an Open Window with the idea that these paintings will create this vessel for other people to get more of an understanding of domestic violence is like,” said Project Safe’s outreach coordinator Sarah Nitz.

Project Safe is an organization that houses and supports victims of domestic violence. The organization does many things for victims, including providing them a confidential and safe place to live and running a hotline that runs 24 hours a day.

“We have a few other annual fundraisers that are much more driven toward raising money, but this is more of an awareness event and that’s why it’s free,” Worman said.

“The paintings ... on display are painted by a bunch of different types of people, so survivors and some of our clients paint … canvases,” Worman said.

This year is the seventh year of the event and Nitz said both the number of paintings on display and the number of victims coming forward to share their stories at the event has grown.

“I think the first year that we did it we had 40 to 50 paintings, and now we usually have well over 100,” Nitz said. “It’s definitely more — We will get more clients [coming] up to us and [saying], ‘Can I share my story next year?’”

Nitz said much of the public doesn’t understand how hard it is to leave an abusive relationship. For some of Project Safe’s clients, this is all they know and may not realize other people have gone through the same situation until Through an Open Window.

“Survivors will come to the event and we will have another survivor share their story, and someone who heard it will come up to me after and be like, ‘Oh my gosh, I didn’t know that her story was just like mine.’ It’s a moment of ‘Wait, I’m not alone,’” Nitz said.

To both Worman and Nitz, this event is a safe space for victims to share their testimonies while being able to express themselves through art therapy.

“[The event] is a little more low-key and allows people to see art from people in the community in a different way,” Worman said.

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