Seattle – (October 1, 2021) – Each year, the City of Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards (OLS) and Human Services Department (HSD) mark the month of October as a time to remember victims and survivors of abuse and exploitation; to raise awareness about violence and its effect on families and communities; and acknowledge and highlight those working to end gender-based violence.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, we have seen an increase in domestic violence reports with deep impacts on survivors. We can still be a lifeline during this unprecedented time, remember to check in on your neighbors who may be suffering abuse in silence. Now more than ever, it’s crucial that we help those who may be suffering by raising our voices and awareness.Mayor Jenny A. Durkan
Mayor Durkan proclaimed the month of October as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” in Seattle to help raise public awareness and support for victims and survivors of gender-based violence. The City also takes seriously its responsibility to its own employees and to serving as a role model for other large organizations. In addition to sick leave, Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) Ordinance provides workers with paid leave for absences that result from critical safety issues arising from domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking. PSST COVID-19 amendments also require employers with employees in Seattle to provide paid leave when their family member’s school or place of care has been closed.
Taking steps to end gender-based violence is a shared responsibility. This month, we take this moment to increase awareness about resources and legal protections available to workers dealing with gender-based violence, like Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance and the additional Covid-19 amendments. Safe time, especially after more than a year of COVID restrictions, has enabled survivors to seek the assistance they need. Our workplaces can play an important role in a survivor’s physical safety and financial security, especially when they offer paid safe leave for absences related to domestic violence and sexual assault.Steven Marchese, Office of Labor Standards Director
In 2021, HSD stood up a new Safe and Thriving Communities (STC) Division which consolidates the department’s safety investments. STC was created in response to Black Lives Matter protests and community advocacy to focus on BIPOC communities and shift safety investments into community-based organizations. STC unites teams, including the Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (MODVSA), Crime Survivor Services’ (CSS) Victim Support Team and Victim Advocates, and Community Safety, that fund community-based organizations that increase community safety.
External pressure like the pandemic is not the cause of domestic violence, but through the incredible work of tireless advocates Like Lan Pham in MODVSA and the larger division as a whole, we do understand those root causes and the impact of the pandemic better.Rex Brown, HSD Safe & Thriving Communities Division Director
While domestic violence does not discriminate, language barriers, lack of culturally relevant services, threats of deportation, and fear of isolation put marginalized communities at an increased risk of experiencing gender-based violence. Women of color and Native women are two-to-three times more likely to experience a gender-based, violence-related fatality than their white counterparts. MODVSA partners with more than 30 diverse service providers to increase access for all survivors with the ‘no wrong door’ approach to advocacy.
The City of Seattle invests more than $10 million annually in community-based programing focused on gender-based violence outreach and education, prevention and advocacy, therapeutic services and counseling, shelter and housing, and offender accountability programming. Through these investments, HSD and partners support more than 10,000 survivors each year.
Domestic violence impacts individuals from all genders, races, ethnicities, and socioeconomic backgrounds. In Washington State, 41 percent of women and 32 percent of men report experiencing violence from an intimate partner.
Interpersonal violence, family violence and community violence impact all of us. Thus, we must work jointly to prevent, intervene, and end violence in our communities.Lan Pham, HSD Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Manger
The issue of domestic violence is widespread and thrives when we are silent. With so many of us working or supporting community from home this year, OLS and HSD’s Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault are inviting everyone to wear purple every Thursday during October in solidarity with survivors of domestic violence. Post a photo, hold a sign, or share a personal story if you are comfortable and use the social media hashtags #DVAM and #Purple Thursday.
The Seattle Great Wheel and Columbia Center office building downtown will join us on Thursday, October 21 for #PugetSoundPurpleThursday and for awareness events nationwide. For more ideas and action steps that you can take to end domestic violence, visit: https://endgv.org/ or https://wscadv.org/dvam/. As WSCADV writes this year, “it doesn’t have to be perfect to have an impact. Just making an effort is what matters most.”
Please visit the OLS website for more information on the PSST Ordinance or call 206-256-5297. And, visit the Seattle Human Services Department for more on supportive victim services.