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Purple lights the way for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. – Throughout October, members of the Family Advocacy Program (FAP) assigned to the 28th Medical Group will “paint the base purple” in efforts to raise awareness for National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

DVAM is observed each October to raise community awareness and highlight Department of Defense and civilian resources available to build healthy relationships, support victims and children, and promote offender accountability.

“DVAM was established to remember those who have lost their lives to domestic violence and honor those who have survived,” said Maj. Rabecca Stahl, the mental health flight commander assigned to the 28th MDG. “This year the theme is ‘Together We Are Stronger,’ and we are trying to get the message down to the lowest Airmen. We liked the idea of having a visual reminder of the candle for people who have been or are victims of domestic abuse.”

According to the National Resource Center on domestic violence, the candle represents a light in the window, a personal commitment to fostering respectful relationships, a unified stance that domestic violence is not acceptable, and hope that together we are “Lighting the Way.”

“Our goal is to inform the base on domestic violence by putting the candle on the desk of base leadership,” said Kimberly Kohler, a family advocacy outreach manager with the 28th MDG. “It can either spark a conversation with a possible victim or just spread awareness to everyone at Ellsworth.”

Kohler stressed awareness of the issue is important, as domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse; it encompasses numerous tactics that may include emotional manipulation, financial abuse, sexual assault and threatening to harm children, other loved ones, or the family pet.

In addition to the candles, the Airman and Family Readiness Center and Sexual Assault Response Program will also spread awareness with various events throughout October.

“We have a number of things going on this month,” Kohler said. “There will be a Working Against Violence Incorporated supply drive, in which we will collect some supplies, such as personal grooming, cleaning, baby, or general supplies they need to continue their mission. Every Thursday, the Integrated Delivery System will have a domestic violence awareness information table at the Base Exchange open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.”

Stahl also mentioned from Oct. 12 to 14, members from the Family Advocacy team will be at the gates handing out information – “painting Ellsworth purple.” The significance being that the color purple is a symbol of domestic violence awareness, prevention and remembrance.

Furthermore, the 28th MDG will be holding an art contest open to all children (up to 12 years), teens (12 to 18), and adults. This art contest encourages individuals at EAFB to express their vision of how “Together we are stronger” against Domestic Violence. The artwork will be on display at the 28th MDG from Oct. 17 to 21.

On Oct 20, National “Wear Purple day,” the DVAM Gala will be held at the 28th MDG from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The keynote speaker for this event will be EAFB’s very own Chief Master Sgt. Sonia T. Lee, speaking on “Domestic Violence, a Child’s Perspective.” After Lee’s remarks, the winners of the art contest will be announced. All are invited to the DVAM Gala to view the art, learn about and meet the artists, enjoy some punch and cookies, and raise awareness on Domestic Violence.

There will also be a book-of-the-month club event focusing on the five love languages, Oct. 28, at the Heritage Hall in the 28th MDG. Those that would like to attend can get a free copy of the book from Family Advocacy.

“This is not just the [Medical] Group who witnesses and deals with domestic violence,” Stahl explained. “Commanders, first shirts and the SARC are involved; it’s a Bomb Wing initiative. This month is a reminder for people who have been or are victims of domestic abuse that people take the cause seriously and are willing to listen and to help. It’s a problem that everyone sees and has to deal with, a community problem.”

For more information on events being held this month, contact Family Advocacy at (605) 385-3656.