By Shannon Rapose
Kern Valley Sun
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Every year, there are many that find passion in working to end domestic violence and come together to promote awareness by hosting events, writing articles, and leading campaigns such as #TakeAStand, #ShineALight or #StopTheViolence. There are two local organizations that are working together who intend to do just that.
For the past three years, during the month of October, the Women’s Center – High Desert has hosted a “Shine a Light on Domestic Violence” Awareness Walk in which participants, carrying signs and flashlights, walk from the Lake Isabella True Value parking lot, down the boulevard to the intersection at Erksine Creek and back. The hope is to raise awareness about domestic violence, which affects so many on a daily basis in our community, and to unite survivors and supporters to discuss issues regarding domestic violence in the community by hearing poems and stories of hope from survivors of domestic violence. The walk takes about 30 minutes and is followed by a candlelight vigil to remember those who have been lost and those who are still living with the scars of domestic violence.
“Someone is affected by domestic violence every 20 minutes in this country, with one in three women and one in four men experiencing some form of abuse or violence in their lifetime,” said Cerro Coso Human Services student, Christine Dochterman.
Dochterman, who is also the current President of the Human Services and Community Outreach Club at the local campus and working toward being a victim advocate, was fortunate enough to do an internship with the local branch of the Women’s Center – High Desert last year. She was really inspired by the work they do with those who are affected by domestic violence and wanted to get the local Cerro Coso student body more involved in community outreach events. So, Dochterman came up with an idea to have Cerro Coso students donate personal care and toiletry items that would be given to the women’s shelter in Ridgecrest, and in turn, they would be entered into a raffle for a chance to win a family night of bowling, which was donated by Mt. Mesa Lanes. Students entered in the raffle would also have to be at the “Shine a Light on Domestic Violence” Awareness Walk on Friday, October 13, at 6 p.m. in the True Value parking lot, where the raffle will take place, in order to win. The club started a collection basket for the donations in the Cerro Coso student lounge last week, and already, it is nearly full and heavy with donations.
“We wanted the student body to be more involved and events like this help give the Human Services students their first exposure to helping people within their own community,” said Dochterman. “We want to make people, not just the Human Services students, more aware of what the community needs and to spark interest in helping others, even if it’s something small.”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, lack of knowledge and silence on the subject of domestic violence play a huge role in why it persists in our society. It can be difficult to know how to help or support family members, friends, or colleagues who are affected by domestic violence, but know you are not alone and don’t be afraid to ask for help. In order to end domestic violence, we all need to be part of the solution. Ways to help are educating yourself and others, helping those whom are being abused, speaking up and being an engaged bystander when you are aware that abuse is or has occurred.
For more information on how to help in the fight against domestic violence, visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence website at ncadv.org. If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, please call the local Women’s Center-High Desert Outreach Office at 760-379-2264 or the 24-hour hotline numbers for domestic violence at 760-375-7525, for sexual assault at 760-375-0745 or for child abuse prevention at 760-375-7100.