By Nicole Matheson
H.A.V.E.N. Family Resource Center of Lake Havasu City is donning the color purple and shining a light on Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October.
RiverScene toured its facility and met with its staff. For those who are unfamiliar with H.A.V.E.N. and its services, this nonprofit organization gives aid to victims of domestic violence, various forms of assault and abuse as well as other heinous crimes. They promote awareness in addition to their free services to educate the public about these issues, and what victims or those who know victims can do.
We Must See Domestic Violence
According to domestic violence research and statistics, victims are many, and in most cases, they suffer silently without signs of struggle or notice. It is a dangerous taker of life and of self-worth as they lose sight of personal identity.
“Almost everybody knows somebody who’s been affected, unfortunately, by domestic violence,” shares Mary Lou O’Connell, Director with H.A.V.E.N. “So how the community (can help) besides donation and financial support is also just knowing we’re there and able to let friends and family know they’re not alone. There is somebody who can help them confidentially, safely.”
Reality Vs. Myth
There are still many misconceptions regarding domestic violence, and those at H.A.V.E.N. encourage people to ask questions rather than perpetuate myths. The danger facing victims is more significant than the normal bystander may realize.
“Seventy-five percent of domestic violence fatalities happen after they’ve left the relationship.” O’Connell said. “So, it’s important that we teach them how to safely leave the relationship, if that’s what they choose to do. If not, we will help them while they’re in there with counseling or other resources.”
Reaching beyond the office walls is a critical aspect of helping anyone in need, regardless of situation. O’Connell, who started on the ground floor with H.A.V.E.N since 2001 during its inception, is adamant about helping however they can. “We meet them where they’re at. A lot of victims are afraid we’re going to make them leave, or they’re gonna have to testify in court against them. We will help them even if they choose to stay in that relationship. A lot of government agencies can’t do that. Since we’re a nonprofit, we actually believe that working with them before they’re ready to leave is important to keep them safe.”
Awareness is a key component to the success of battling domestic violence across the country. Although Lake Havasu City has H.A.V.E.N. as a resource in Arizona, there are many who are unaware of its existence or purpose often until its services are needed.
Ashley Buckles, family advocate with H.A.V.E.N., shares that, “Abuse is silent, so we want to put a spotlight on it.”
Shine A Light
Shedding a spotlight, both figuratively and literally, on domestic violence will be the focus on Oct. 4, under London Bridge at 7 p.m. Mayor Cal Sheehy will commemorate October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month for Lake Havasu City. After a lighting and proclamation by Mayor Sheehy, attendees can help honor victims by assisting in tossing carnations into the Bridgewater Channel. It is encouraged to arrive at 6:30pm before the ceremony begins.
There will be no Walk For Domestic Violence this year. The Shine A Light event will take place instead.
For details, questions, or concerns contact H.A.V.E.N. directly at 928-505-3153.