Shine a Purple Light on Domestic Violence | Editorial

by SAFE San Juans

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and SAFE San Juans (SAFE) wants your help making the islands glow purple in recognition of the victims of domestic violence (DV). Purple is the cause color for domestic violence, and using Purple Lights is a very colorful and not-so-subtle way to bring recognition of the problem to our communities. SAFE’s staff are 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 staff members. “We try to do things in the community that will start the conversation, break the silence, and engage people in seeking solutions.

For many years, SAFE San Juans set out red silhouettes for the month of October, each one representing a person who died in an act of domestic violence in Washington over the previous year (72 died in 2022). Four years ago, SAFE made the strategic decision to stop setting out the silhouettes and do something that community members could more readily join in with. SAFE staff started putting up purple lights in prominent places like the courthouse and trees along major streets, and then they went door-to-door, asking business owners to join in.

“We started with businesses in Friday Harbor, Eastsound, and Lopez Village since they are the largest population centers, and the response has been strong. We are very encouraged by the support our business owners are giving. These lights will obviously draw a lot of attention and get people asking questions,” they said. “We would love to see community members join in and hang up strings of purple lights as a show of solidarity and concern. Eventually, we’d love to see all the islands glow purple throughout the whole month of October.”

“The lights are there to remind us of those who died from domestic abuse, support those who survived, and provide hope for those still living with abuse,” SAFE staff 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 an abuse of personal power. It stops when each person learns to treat others with the same dignity and respect they desire for themself.”

“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 (SAFE) 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 immediate danger, please call 911.