Shining Light on Domestic Violence

October 4, 2012

By: Claudia Wald, Women’s Economic Empowerment Development Assistant, AmeriCorps VISTA

In Times Square, on October 2nd, 2012 New York City commemorated Domestic Violence Awareness Month impressively though with humanity.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer spoke with poise of his office’s dedication to fighting domestic violence. He expressed great deference to the many advocates and leaders in the community, including special guest Eve Ensler, Tony Award Winning playwright and activist.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. spoke astutely, stating that “raising awareness about this public health crisis is critical, as early intervention can mean the difference between life and death.”

Taking in his words, at that moment, struck me as anachronistic, hearing the District Attorney utter that his office may receive 700 domestic violence complaints in one day; yet also humbling, among buildings of baffling heights and being peppered by blinking Herculean advertisements on digital billboards.  This also led me to ponder how many among the predominantly female congregation huddling under their umbrellas had been touched by violence.

At approximately 6:45 pm, the rain cleared and a selection of the digital billboards turned purple, exhibiting prominently “You Are Not Alone- Help is Available”.

Attempting to rotate my neck like an owl to see the message displayed all around me, was affirming and validating; it provided for me both a reassurance of the indefatigable dedication of this community, but also a powerful reminder of the great strides that the battle against domestic violence has made.

As I left the Square, seeing the billboards that kept their existing advertisements, revitalized my commitment, as I imagined the event in years henceforth when the purple signage would be ubiquitous in Times Square.

“Shine the Light on Domestic Violence” is a campaign that connects communities across New York by turning the state purple during October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month.