Campaign helps shed light on domestic violence ‘in a quiet lovely way’
By Masaka Ova / Jamestown Sun With October being Domestic Violence Awareness month, Safe Shelter in Jamestown is conducting the Light in the Window campaign. The Light in the Window campaign entails purple light bulbs being lit near windows to sh...
By Masaka Ova / Jamestown Sun
With October being Domestic Violence Awareness month, Safe Shelter in Jamestown is conducting the Light in the Window campaign.
The Light in the Window campaign entails purple light bulbs being lit near windows to shed light on the problem of domestic violence “in a quiet lovely way,” said Mary Thysell, sexual assault services coordinator at Safe Shelter. The lights are purple because it is the color that is associated with domestic violence. The lights should be installed in an area where people can see the purple from outside of the home or business, Thysell said. “So many people don’t want to admit domestic violence exists,” she said. “It will give people the opportunity to talk about the pervasiveness of the problem.”
Safe Shelter is giving away bulbs since it is the first time it will be conducting the Light in the Window campaign. The Safe Shelter has 50 purple light bulbs, and people who want to participate in the Light in the Window campaign can call the Safe Shelter at 251-2300, contact a Safe Shelter board member or stop at its office from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. People can also participate by purchasing their own purple light bulbs and putting them near a window.
“I hope people will be interested in participating and showing their support for victims and concern for the problem,” Thysell said.
Thysell said domestic violence is a multifaceted problem in the community that not only deals with the issue of physical violence but also with many dynamics that people are not aware of. Other types of domestic violence include emotional and economic abuse. Some examples of economic abuse might include a victim who works three jobs and has to hand over her paychecks while the abuser does not work and stays home, or the abuser telling the victim how to spend a paycheck or not allowing the victim to spend money on items that the family needs.
“There might be an issue of using relationships with the children to control behavior,” she said, adding that some people might use children as weapons. “The whole center of domestic violence is that issue of the abuser’s power and control to control mom and the family. When mom is victimized the kids are always, always victimized. Even though they (children) may not have witnessed the actual abuse, they are still victims of that abuse because it impacts mom’s relationship with the whole family, and our children model what they see and don’t see.”
Thysell said it is important for people to recognize that drugs and alcohol are not causes of domestic violence.
“They don’t cause one to become violent,” she said. “They are separate issues that need to be treated separately.”
To help protect victims of domestic violence, the North Dakota Criminal Justice Information Sharing Program has provided a protection and restraining order notification system. The Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification Protection and Restraining Order Service, which has been fully operational since 2011, provides near real-time, automated telephone, text message and email notifications to registered victims and victim advocates. The service alerts victims that an order has been served, tracks court dates and continuances and provides a 30-day notice of expiration, which gives victims and victim advocates time to seek extensions or obtain other protections.
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., has also been an advocate for raising awareness of domestic violence since she served as North Dakota attorney general beginning in 1992. After joining the U.S. Senate, Heitkamp helped reauthorize the latest version of the Violence Against Women Act.
“Part of what makes this issue insidious is the way it’s been able to stay hidden behind closed doors and behind closed mouths too afraid or ashamed to speak out, but perhaps most dangerously, behind closed minds,” Heitkamp wrote in an op-ed that was sent to The Jamestown Sun. “This is a key element of the poisonous nature of domestic violence. It is too easily swept aside and belittled with the social stigma carried by the term ‘women issue.’”
Thysell said Heitkamp has been “wonderfully supportive” in helping spread awareness of domestic violence.
“We are very grateful of her support over the years,” she said.
Sun Assistant Editor Masaki Ova can be reached at (701) 952-8451 or by email at email@example.com