October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Jacksonville Crisis Center Foundation has had to take a lot of their awareness campaign for the issues of domestic violence virtually this year due to COVID-19.
Crisis Foundation Legal Advocate and creator of the Family Violence Council in Morgan County, Alex Bryant, says that they have successfully held a few in-person events in town this month: “We’ve done two drive-through events called ‘Light In the Window’, and we’ve been handing out goodie bags that include a little purple light that you put in your window to show support for domestic violence [victims] and to spread awareness. Every week [in the month of October] on Facebook, we’ve been focusing on three things: remember, celebrate, and connect. Last week, we posted a couple of clients that we’ve had that have passed away due to domestic violence. This week, we are celebrating the people who have survived. They are sharing some of their stories on Facebook. The last week of October, we are going to be getting all of our resources out on Facebook letting everyone in the community know what kind of things we can help them do at the Crisis Center.”
Bryant says that the amount of domestic violence reports the Crisis Center receives is about the same for this time of year. She says that COVID-19 has presented challenges in other areas: “I would say there has been a lot more need for shelter since COVID happened, especially with the homeless shelter being closed and the months that everyone was in their houses together definitely made some things worse with people who are living in a domestic violence situation. We have had a lot of people needing shelter.”
Bryant says there are many ways to help someone you suspect may be in a domestic violence situation: “If you are reporting domestic violence, you can call the Crisis Center Foundation at 217-243-4357. We have a lot of resources if you are a friend or you just need to help a friend. Of course, you can call the Jacksonville Police Department or your local law enforcement to have them do a wellness check on someone who you might think may be in a domestic violence situation. As far as a way for the community to help, we are always taking donations at the Crisis Center Foundation for things for our shelter especially. Towels, kitchenware, housewares, things like that for people to go out on their own. A lot of people who come into our shelter, come with just the clothes on their back.”
Bryant also has a message for those who may be in a domestically violent relationship: “I would definitely want them to know that they are not alone. There are people here and throughout the community that would do anything for them to help them get to a safe place. There is plenty of resources that you can get. Even if you are not ready to leave, that’s okay, too. You can still call us. You can come and talk with us on the phone, if that’s good. One of the main things is we don’t want to ever pressure anyone to do something that they don’t want to do. Domestic violence is very hard to break away from. You are actually in the most danger when you leave the relationship. Everything is self-determined. We are going to support you no matter what.”
The Crisis Center Foundation provides 24 hour comprehensive services for intervention through their 800-number hotline as well as safety planning, information, and referral for service. You can call them locally at 217-243-4357 or at 1-800-799-7233.