October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and this year bringing attention to this problem may be more important than ever.
Folks across the Gulf Coast are wearing purple in honor of victims and survivors.
COVID is forcing many of us to stay home more than ever.
For some, its an inconvenience.
For domestic violence victims, it may mean life or death.
“When you house abusers and victims together 24 hours without access to help, then we know that the instances of domestic violence in this community during the pandemic has greatly increased,” said Rhyon Ervin, Director of The Lighthouse, and a DV advocate.
As COVID restrictions eased, more and more survivors are able to get the help they need thanks to places like The Lighthouse in Baldwin County.
The Lighthouse serves Baldwin, Mobile, Conecuh, and Escambia Counties, offering a 24-hour shelter and crisis line, as well as supportive housing, court advocacy, and children’s services.
Even during the pandemic, they’ve made sure to prioritize safety and health by regularly cleaning shelters and hosting virtual vigils over social media.
“We don’t want to forget those people who didn’t survive this crime on families. We don’t want to forget the Stephanie’s and the Candace’s and the LaVon’s and the Catherine’s,” said Ervin.
Ervin says domestic violence isn’t just physical.
The National Coalition of Domestic Violence says it also includes sexual violence, threats, and emotional abuse.
That’s why The Lighthouse is working with local law enforcement and hospitals to make medical care for sexual assault victims more easily accessible here on the Eastern Shore.
“We want that care to be done in our county, so that victims and law enforcement don’t have to go across the bay to process rape cases,” said Ervin.
She says the most important message of the day to victims is they are not alone.
If you or a loved one are experiencing any kind of domestic abuse or sexual assault, you can reach The Lighthouse at 251-947-6008 24 hours a day.
For more resources, click here.