Domestic Violence Awareness Month aims to educate, dispel myths

MECOSTA, OSCEOLA, LAKE COUNTIES — In the U.S., one in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

In an effort to bring attention to this statistic and more information about domestic abuse, local agencies are recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“This is a month to bring attention to something that is a big part of the community here, and also to dispel some myths around it,” said Brittany Dudley, program director of Women’s Information Service, Inc. (WISE).

She added physical violence is often what many people think of when they talk about domestic violence, but there are many other forms of domestic abuse, including financial, emotional and sexual abuse.

Another myth about domestic violence WISE hopes to dispel through October is abuse doesn’t only happen to women in low-income families, but it can happen to anyone regardless of gender, age or background, Dudley said.

“People tend to think, ‘That would never happen to me,’” she said, “but it’s not a conscious choice on the part of the survivors.”

Dudley said WISE, a nonprofit agency providing advocacy and support services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault in Mecosta, Osceola and Newaygo counties, will be hosting a variety of activities throughout October for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Among the activities WISE will be hosting is a personal hygiene drive at Ferris State University throughout the month, during which time people are encouraged to bring in feminine hygiene products, diapers and similar items for those in need in the community.

“We tend to run very low on these types of things,” Dudley said.

She said the agency also will be updating their tearaway sheets with contact information so people in need of assistance can discretely obtain the help line number.

Dudley said it is important for people to have this information on hand in case family or friends reach out to them for help.

“We’re hoping family members and friends will grab our number too because most people in a situation of domestic violence reach out to family rather than an organization directly,” she said.

Anyone needing help can contact the WISE Crisis Line 24 hours a day by calling 1(800) 374-WISE.

For more information about services available at WISE, call (231) 796-6600.

While WISE serves residents in Mecosta, Osceola and Newaygo counties, people living in Lake County can reach out to COVE (Communities Overcoming Violent Encounters) for assistance.

COVE aims to provide shelter, protection and advocacy to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Individuals in need of help can call COVE at 1(800) 950-5808.