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The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Evanston kicks off Domestic Violence Awareness Month as local organizations host programs and events

Daily file photo by Colin Boyle
Organizations like the YWCA will continue to offer their regular services alongside special programming for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Sunday marked the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and several community groups are hosting events and resource fairs in and around Evanston to raise awareness of resources available to survivors and strengthen the city’s understanding of the issue.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence proposed dedicating a month to domestic violence awareness in 1981 to spread awareness of domestic violence and its effects on survivors, families and communities. Since 1987, October has been Domestic Violence Awareness Month, signified by a purple ribbon.

YWCA Evanston/North Shore will be holding events all month, including a 40-hour domestic violence training event, a community resource fair and a conversation about the intersection between domestic violence and racism.

As part of its Every 9 Seconds fundraising campaign, which matches donations up to $50,000, the YWCA will continue to “support our Domestic Violence work — work that touches survivors, their families, youth in the community, and even those who have caused violence and abuse,” according to the organization’s Facebook page.

The YWCA will also hold a Clothesline Project on Oct. 11, where survivors of domestic violence will design and hang shirts as a visual statistic of the pervasiveness of violence.

In addition to these events, the YWCA provides year-round resources to domestic violence survivors and their families. These resources include emergency shelter and long-term housing, a children’s program, community education and support services.

The North Suburban Legal Aid Clinic is also observing DVAM. The organization provides free legal services in three areas: domestic violence, housing and immigration. Rebecca Weininger, director of the clinic’s domestic violence law practice, oversees programs and services that support domestic violence survivors.

Weininger said households and entire communities feel the effects of domestic violence. She said the awareness month is necessary to publicly remind people of available resources for survivors, their families and anyone else impacted and “amplify” the voices of service providers.

“Everybody in our community has a vested interest in being aware of and addressing the roots of domestic violence,” Weininger said. “There isn’t any member of the community who isn’t affected by domestic violence. The sheer number of people who are surviving means that we all know somebody who is surviving domestic violence.”

Calls to the Illinois Domestic Violence Hotline have increased in recent years. In 2022, there were a total of 37,236 contacts to the line. This figure represents a 15% increase from 2021 and a 50% increase from 2019.

In 2022, the Evanston Police Department investigated 316 cases of domestic violence, ultimately making 21 arrests, according to the department’s annual report.

Alondra Montes Arroyo is the director of the hotline, run by The Network: Advocating Against Domestic Violence. The group includes over 40 member organizations dedicated to supporting victims of gender-based violence.

In early October, the hotline opened a survivor fund application portal for survivors of gender-based violence that qualify for financial assistance. They will also be holding and participating in a number of awareness month events — such as Purple Thursday on Oct. 19, where supporters will wear purple — and a YWCA community resource fair on Oct. 26.

During its regular operational hours, the hotline is open to anyone impacted by domestic violence, including the perpetrator. The Network also provides transportation for clients, referrals for counseling and legal assistance, among many other services.

“We haven’t gotten rid of domestic violence,” Arroyo said. “It’s happening at all ages in all communities. So I think it’s important to come together and pinpoint the need that is there, but also achievements and success that have happened. Until it is gone and nonexistent in our community, I think we have to keep talking about it.”

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