SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — An important message is on full display this month in Forsyth Park. Community members are bringing awareness to domestic violence and honoring victims by tying purple ribbons to trees.
For more than 20 years, one local organization uses the color purple every October to raise awareness for resources and to invite others to take action against domestic violence.
“We use this month to try to bring out extra awareness and I hope for victims it means we’re not forgotten and remind them one more time that there is a safe place to go,” says Safe Shelter Director, Cheryl Branch.
During domestic violence awareness month, SAFE Shelter wants to bring attention to the services they offer.
“We have Safe Shelter which is open 24 hours a day seven days a week, we have the family violence unit with the Savannah Police Department, we have ADA’s, assistant district attorneys that do nothing but prosecute domestic violence and sexual assault cases,” Branch says.
These ribbons representing the help that is always within reach.
“Last year we provided services to 1,303 people and domestic violence is very underreported,” Branch said.
But Branch says the pandemic made it harder for some domestic violence victims to seek help due to COVID-19 safety precautions leaving people isolated at home.
“In 2020, the first year of the pandemic, our numbers were low,” she said. “I think victims were even afraid to go into a shelter when we had so much going on and we didn’t know and we didn’t have vaccines.”
She says she hopes these purple ribbons will remind people to always look for signs of domestic violence.
“It’s really important that not only victims but friends, family members, co-workers who are concerned about somebody, they have this information, because you may be there when that person has a moment that they’re ready to do something.”
Safe Shelter wants victims to know they are never alone.
“Raising awareness about domestic violence and the fact that it doesn’t have a name, a face so it goes across the board,” says Safe Shelter community outreach coordinator, Frances Gillison. “No matter your race, your class, gender, sexuality it happens. But just know that we’re here, safe shelter is here to assist.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, you can call Safe Shelters 24-hour crisis line at 912-629-8888.