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Mayor Harrell and City Council Recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Seattle

Domestic abuse exists currently in all communities, regardless of race, religion, occupation, educational level, culture, socioeconomic status, or sexual orientation.

Each year, the City of Seattle recognizes October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month to raise awareness and acknowledge the victims and survivors of abuse and its effects on families and communities.

L to R, in Council Chambers: City Councilmember Lisa Herbold; Amarinthia Torres, Co-Executive Director of Policy at the Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence; and Alison Forsyth, Seattle Human Services.

This week, Mayor Bruce Harrell and City Council proclaimed this October as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Seattle” to encourage all Seattle residents to recognize the signs of abuse and coercion and work to make this city a place where domestic violence does not exist. This year’s proclamation was presented by City Councilmember Lisa Herbold, Chair of the Public Safety and Human Services Committee, to Amarinthia Torres, Co-Executive Director of Policy at the Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence, and Alison Forsyth, Sr. Planning & Development Specialist here at the Seattle Human Services Department (HSD).

As Mayor Harrell stated last year, “Domestic violence can happen to anyone, regardless of age, race, or gender…. The traumatic impacts of domestic violence are felt across generations, and we must advocate for victims and survivors and connect them with support and resources. I encourage every Seattleite to use this time to learn how they can help a family member, friend, or neighbor who may be suffering abuse in silence.”

During the Council Meeting, Councilmember Herbold shared a tragic statistic included in the proclamation that “41.4 percent of women and 31.7 percent of men in Washington experience intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner rape and/or intimate partner stalking in their lifetimes.”

“As this proclamation states, domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behaviors that someone uses to maintain power and control over a partner; and like other forms of gender-based violence is rooted in rigid gender roles, racism, sexism, heterosexism, and other forms of oppression,” said Torres. “A huge portion of Seattle residents, as Councilmember Herbold proclaimed in reading the proclamation, will experience some form of domestic violence or abuse in their lifetimes. And no one is immune from its far-reaching impact.”

“Too many really good people have been taken from us,” agreed City Councilmember Dan Strauss, who shared a story that he had just been at a gathering in community the previous weekend mourning the loss of someone who was a victim of domestic violence.”

Since its inception in 1989, the Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault within HSD has been charged with leading the City of Seattle’s response to Gender-Based Violence and has expanded beyond domestic violence to include sexual assault, human trafficking, and other crimes of coercive control. The City of Seattle invests in strategies to prevent, intervene, and hold offenders accountable, while promoting healing, services, and community support for those impacted by domestic violence by partnering with more than 35 organizations to provide services to more than 10,000 survivors and their families each year.

As Forsyth shared in a blog post earlier this year, “Despite the incredible wave of support and awareness that the #MeToo movement has generated, sexual violence continues to be a pervasive issue in today’s society and the demand for our crime victim advocate services remains high. However, our team’s capacity has nearly doubled in staffing over the past several years and continues to grow and expand. This is encouraging to us advocates because we can meet more victim’s needs and provide greater support to historically underserved populations. It is exciting and I hope it continues.”

The arch lights at Lumen Field are lit up purple at night for Purple Thursday on October 20, 2022.

To honor victims and support survivors, HSD is encouraging City employees and members of the community to wear purple next Thursday, October 19, 2023. “Purple Thursday,” which was also part of this year’s proclamation, is the domestic violence awareness day launched by the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence that’s now gone national with observances across the country. Post a photo, hold a sign, or share a personal story if you are comfortable, and use the social media hashtags #DVAM and #PurpleThursday. In a show of support of “Purple Thursday”, Lumen Field, T-Mobile Park, and other landmarks also lit up purple last year, and at times throughout the month.

The City also takes seriously its responsibility to its own employees and to serve 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.

Banner image with purple ribbon and text October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from a Day of Unity first observed in October 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The intent was to connect advocates for survivors of abuse across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children. The Day of Unity soon became a special week when a range of activities was conducted at the local, state, and national levels, and has since grown to become a federally observed month of awareness and action on domestic violence.

Please visit the OLS website for more information on the PSST Ordinance or call 206-256-5297. If you or someone you know needs assistance, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) or call the 24/7 DVHopeline at (877) 737-0242.

For more ideas and action steps that you can take to end domestic violence, visit the Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence or Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence.