Week Without Violence educates on domestic violence

Jackson Hermann

YWCA of Topeka is running the capitol city’s Week Without Violence Oct. 15 to 21.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and during this important period dedicated to bringing better education of intimate partner violence and abuse, the YWCA of Topeka planned a week full of activities and events to bring awareness to the issues surrounding domestic violence.

“The YWCA nationally has run the Week Without Violence campaign for many years and as an affiliate we run our own,” said Michelle McCormick, Program Director for the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment. “During this week we have a number of events scheduled that are designed to be opportunities to bring awareness to the issues.”

The week kicked off Oct. 15 with the traveling film festival, Lunafest, showing a number of films made by women for women. It was co-hosted by Girls on the Run, a running group for middle-school aged girls focused on healthy self-esteem and body image issues.

The YWCA held a training for clergy members Oct. 17.

“It’s a way to engage the faith community and it’s specifically a training so that they can better understand the dynamics of domestic violence,” McCormick said. “They can learn how they can respond and how they can get folks in their religious community connected to our services.”

There will be a march and rally from 12 to 1 p.m. Oct. 21 at the capitol building, traveling down to the YWCA of Topeka.

“It’s our opportunity to have a very public presence so that victims and survivors know that there’s people who support them,” McCormick said. “So that’s our very public event that caps off the Week Without Violence.”

In addition to the march itself, the Shawnee Co. Sherriff’s department and the Topeka Police department come together every year to provide lunch for everyone who attends.

This week is a crucial part of increasing the awareness of this important issue.

“People would be surprised to learn, I just ran our quarterly figures and in the months of July, August and September we sheltered over 80 people,” McCormick said.

“We answered over 500 hotline calls during that time and we provided over 1,000 counseling services during those 3 months. There are people in our community experiencing these difficulties. It’s not an issue that people tend to speak publicly about and so there’s a lot of under-reporting.”

STAND will be providing information about the domestic violence in the Union throughout the week.

“The week without violence is being put on through the YWCA of Topeka and they wanted to know if we’d help,” said Damian Barron, senior anthropology major and president of STAND. “We’re helping with tabling and making buttons for domestic violence awareness and information.”

STAND is a student organization advocating for human rights and equality of the sexes.

“It’s an educational event and for a lot of us it’s easy to turn a blind eye because it’s normalized in our society and happens so much,” Barron said. “But I think it’s something important that we need to combat and I’m glad that the YWCA is helping put this on.”