Shining purple light on domestic violence

Submitted by SAFE San Juans.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and SAFE San Juans invites you to help make the islands glow purple in honor of the victims of domestic violence. The tradition of using Purple Lights to honor those who have suffered (or are) from domestic violence began in Covington, Washington in 2006. Since purple is the cause color for domestic violence, the Covington Domestic Violence Task Force devised this subtle yet colorful way to bring recognition of the problem to its community.

SAFE San Juans heard of the initiative a few years back, and SAFE’s staff have been working to establish Purple Light Nights as an annual happening in the San Juans.

“We are always looking for creative ways to call attention to this issue and find ways for community members to get more involved,” said SAFE San Juans Executive Director Dave Dunaway. “We try to do things in the community that will start the conversation, break the silence and engage people in seeking solutions.”

Over the last couple of years, SAFE San Juans focused on putting purple lights up in prominent places like the courthouse and trees along major streets. This year, SAFE’s staff have been going door-to-door, asking business owners to join in.

“We had to be strategic because we have finite time and energy. We started with businesses in Friday Harbor and Eastsound since they are the largest population centers — the response has been strong,” Dunaway said. “People are going to be amazed when they go into Friday Harbor and see the town glowing purple. I’m overwhelmed by the support our business owners are giving. These lights will obviously draw a lot of attention and get people asking questions. We would love to see community members join in and put purple light bulbs in their porch lights or in their windows as a show of solidarity and concern.”

He says they eventually would love to see all the islands glow purple throughout the whole month of October.

“The lights are there to remind people to remember those who died from domestic abuse, support those who survived, and provide hope for those still living with abuse,” Dunaway explained. “Those who are suffering, and those who have suffered are our family, friends and neighbors. This issue doesn’t discriminate: it impacts poor and rich, young and old, every race, nationality and gender. Domestic violence is an attitude of disrespect and disregard expressed through abuse of personal power. It stops when each person learns to treat others with the same dignity and respect they desire for themselves. Sadly, we know there are homes in our communities that are still living with this issue, but there is life beyond violence, and we are here to help.”

SAFE San Juans is a non-profit agency serving survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse/assault. With offices in Friday Harbor, Eastsound, and Lopez Village, all of SAFE’s services are confidential, free, and available to anyone who needs them. To talk with someone from SAFE San Juans, call 360-378-8680 or visit SAFE’s 24/7 crisis line is always staffed and can be reached at 360-378-2345. If you are in danger, please call 911.