Awareness is the first step | Editorial

Without awareness and action, there cannot be social change.

Nationally and locally, there is incredible work being done to educate people about and prevent the occurrence of domestic violence. This October, look for public awareness campaigns across the country that share information on the prevalence of abuse and how people can seek help and lend support to others.

SAFE San Juans will make the islands glow purple in honor of the victims of domestic violence throughout this month. Trees and buildings around the county will feature purple-hued lights to bring awareness of the issue.

We can’t say it often enough: domestic violence DOES NOT discriminate. Anyone of any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim – or perpetrator – of domestic violence. It can happen to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. Since 2016, there have been two domestic-violence-related homicides in San Juan County.

DV is defined as behavior that physically harms, creates fear, prevents a partner from doing what they wish or forces them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. The frequency and severity of DV can vary dramatically.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men. One in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.

If you are in immediate danger, call 911. The U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233. SAFE San Juans provides free and confidential services on Orcas (376-5979), Lopez (468-3788) and San Juan (378-8680).

Voting can make a difference

The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence wrote the following.

“Who and what we vote for – the candidates, ballot initiatives, and referendums – at the federal, state, and local levels is a critical opportunity to make our voices heard, to use our vote as a statement of our values and priorities. Some of the policy priorities for us at NRCDV include: ongoing support for three cornerstone pieces of federal legislation: the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act, Violence Against Women and Victims of Crime Act. …take this month to be sure that our vote is based on a well-informed understanding of the policies that candidates put forward, and the impact of initiatives or other measures that might be on the ballot.”

The Washington State Secretary of State supplies voter guides, both through the mail and online at The guides display the local, state and federal measures and candidates on each county’s November ballots.