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Rowan officials highlight prevalence of abuse during Domestic Violence Awareness Month

dovesofgateway.org

Ahead of the winter months, officials are raising awareness around domestic violence and resources for victims. Domestic violence is defined as violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner.

In Rowan and surrounding counties, Doves of Gateway is the organization tasked with assisting victims of domestic violence. Assistant Director Melissa Cooper said destigmatizing the issue is critical.

“It’s very important to raise that awareness. To say, ‘Hey, it’s not okay’. It’s not okay for anybody to be, you know, a victim of domestic violence,” said Cooper.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, it’s important to recognize warning signs such as isolation, low self-esteem, unexplained injuries and depression or anxiety.

Cooper said there are always people in need of assistance, but the number fluctuates depending on the season.

“When it gets cold people are in more. They’re, you know, stuck in a house together more. In the summertime you’ve got more drinking because it’s hotter, so you’ve got a lot more alcohol use, and you’ve got, kids are out of school in the summer, so you’ve got a little more stress added there,” said Cooper.

A report from the U.S. Department of Justice found that intimate partner violence cases declined by 9% in the fall, 6% in the spring, and 12% in the winter compared to the summer months.

Cooper said that anyone could be a victim of domestic violence, so Doves serves any victim, including men, and their children,

“It’s not something that people realize. A lot of shelters in Kentucky will house men in hotels or provide hotel rooms. Our shelter the way it’s set up, some of our rooms have bathrooms attached. So if we have a male victim call needing services we can actually bring them into shelter, and we provide them with one of those rooms,” said Cooper.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one in three women and one in four men have experienced some form of physical violence by an intimate partner.

To continue to raise awareness, there will be an event held on October 30 at 5 p.m. at the Gateway Children’s Advocacy Center on Main Street.

“It’s called a Speak My Name list and so it’s every victim in the state of Kentucky who has been killed due to a domestic violence incident. And so they will state this person’s name, you know with family’s permission, their name, their age and what county they were from, and so every year in October we do it. It’s kind of like a remembrance so we will pass candles, little tea light candles out, and we will speak those victims’ names and take a moment of silence to honor those victims,” said Cooper.

Doves of Gateway can be contacted at 606-784-6880. The Doves crisis line can be reached at 1-800-221-4361. More information can be found at dovesofgateway.org.