“Change Our Future and Stop the Violence” is the theme for this year’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month events on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. During October, the SRPMIC Department of Health and Human Services Prevention Intervention Program plans to renew the fight against domestic violence and abuse in the Community.
“We help promote healthy relationships. We do a lot of presentations in the Community throughout the year, also working with Senior Services, Recreation [Department] programs and in other areas,” said Vurlene Notsinneh-Bowekaty, Community health educator for the Prevention Intervention Program. Domestic violence is any form of violence—verbal, physical or emotional—between intimate partners, or people in any relationship, which involves someone getting hurt. People of any age and gender can find themselves victims of domestic violence.
“[Domestic violence] can happen with a father and son, mother and daughter, as well as couples,” said Notsinneh-Bowekaty.
There are several domestic violence awareness activities scheduled in October. The kickoff event will be held at the Round House Café at the Two Waters Complex on October 1 from 8 a.m. to noon. The Prevention Intervention Program will have a booth set up with information on domestic violence. Purple is the color of domestic violence awareness, and everyone is encouraged to pick up a purple ribbon and wear it throughout October to spread awareness. The program would particularly like the Community’s first responders, such as the members of the Salt River fire and police departments, to wear the purple ribbons. Also, every Thursday in October, if you wear a purple ribbon at the Round House Café, you will receive 10 percent off your bill during breakfast and lunch.
On October 6 at 2 p.m., a presentation on children who witness abuse will be held at the Two Waters Complex, Building A -201, at 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. “Unfortunately, when there is violence in the home, our children are witnessing this abuse and it can affect them in many ways,” said Notsinneh-Bowekaty. “Many times they can carry on that violence, or [it will] affect [their] school and sleep, and it can be a learned behavior from watching their parents.”
Later on that evening, there will be a family Glow Walk starting at the Salt River Fitness Center at 6:30 p.m. This walk is in honor of both domestic violence awareness and suicide prevention. Glow sticks and lights will be provided, and after the walk healthy snacks will be provided to the first 175 people.
On October 13, a presentation called “Our Stories” features domestic-violence victims who are willing to share their stories. The presentation will be held in building A at the Two Waters Complex at 10 a.m.
A presentation from the Batterers Intervention Program called “Fighting Fair” will take place on October 14 at 10 a.m. at the Two Waters Complex, Building A -201.
October 15 will be “Wear Purple Arizona” day to spread domestic violence awareness throughout the state.
“The U.S. Army Reserve will also be
giving a presentation on sexual assault in the military and what they are doing to stop it,” said Notsinneh-Bowekaty. “A presentation on sex trafficking in Indian Country, which will be put on by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and law enforcement, will also take place.”
People are very uncomfortable talking about domestic violence, especially if it is taking place in their own homes. Victims feel the need to protect their partners or fear losing their children.
“But the issue still needs to be addressed,” said Notsinneh-Bowekaty. “I really hope everyone will become aware of domestic violence and [understand] that it is not a problem that is going to go away overnight. We do our best to try to protect the women and children of this Community, and we also want to educate them on this topic and [teach everyone] that there are healthier ways of handling [difficult] situations at home other than violence.”
Shoe cards also will be handed out during the month. A shoe card is a small, folded card that can be carried discreetly. It has basic information on domestic violence and crisis hotline numbers the person can have handy whenever domestic violence occurs.
“We used to give out handbooks, but they caused problems in relationships when the spouses found out, so now we have the shoe cards,” noted Notsinneh-Bowekaty. “It can fit in [small] places where you can hide it, so [people] can have [access to] that information and contact numbers when they need it.”
Emergency kits are also available for families that may need to flee an abusive situation on moment’s notice.
“These help the family a lot,” said Notsinneh-Bowekaty. “We also supply them with a cell phone to be able to keep in contact with program staff, officers and prosecutors who are working on their case.
“We can altogether eliminate domestic violence from our homes and ensure that our youth will grow up healthfully and peacefully, which creates a peaceful community,” said Notsinneh-Bowekaty.
For more information about programming on the Community during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, contact Notsinneh-Bowekaty at (480) 362-2706/5616.
For more information and assistance, visit the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence online at www.ncadv.org.