The Domestic Violence Coordinating Council of Tallahassee hosted their annual March to End the Silence on Domestic Violence Wednesday in efforts to raise awareness on domestic violence.
The DVCC is an organization that was put together by the city and county commissions’ as a way for agencies and groups in town that work with domestic violence victims to work together to provide public education and awareness.
Kelly O’Rourke, director of the DVCC and Florida State University’s Institute for Family Violence Studies, is committed to raising awareness and educating individuals on ways to prevent domestic violence. O’Rourke is also committed to promoting a zero tolerance to domestic violence in the Tallahassee community.
“Although the DVCC has helped victims find shelter and have provided counseling, we really haven’t stopped domestic violence from happening in the first place,” O’Rourke said.
Groups marched from three different locations to convene at the Augustus B. Turnbull III Florida State Conference Center, where dinner was served, followed by a testimony by Alicia Armstrong, a survivor of domestic violence.
Armstrong, a Florida native and a graduate of Florida State University, shared her survival story on how she was able to escape and break away from an abusive relationship she was in for over a year.
“First things first, it is never the victim’s fault,” Armstrong said.
Armstrong believes it is very important to raise community awareness about the issue and do everything possible to put a stop to domestic violence.
“We must teach young men and young ladies to respect others and that violence is not the answer,” Armstrong said. “Look for red flags such as, jealously, manipulation and the need for control in your relationships. Your gut feeling is usually always right.”
There are many ways a person can help as a bystander when dealing with an abusive relationship. There are three things the DVCC recommends an individual should do when responding to disclosure of abuse:
- Be empathetic and understanding
- Provide choices and referrals
- Have a safety plan.
“All people really need is an ear,” Armstrong said. “It takes an average victim seven times to leave before completely calling it quits with their abuser.”
Chrissy Zubek, a senior at FSU, was inspired to join the march when a friend, who is majoring in social work, told her about the event.
“I think domestic violence is a very important topic that gets swept under the rug way too often,” Zubek said.
As a feminist and a strong proponent of social justice, Zubek feels that it is time to stop focusing on what women are “doing wrong” and more on how cultures influences the way men treat women.
If you would like to get involved with the DVCC, the council meets every third Wednesday of every month at the Leon Humane Service.
“Always remember, you’re not alone, it’s not your fault and there is help available,” said O’Rourke.
Also, if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, you can call 850-681-2111 or visit http://www.loveisrespect.org for more information.