Domestic Violence Awareness Month is our opportunity as a community to re-focus on doing our part to end domestic violence.
KX News spoke with the executive director of a non-profit in Bismarck to discuss the reality of this happening right here in our state.
Just last year, the executive director of AARC Michelle Erickson said they served 1,000 people who were affected by some sort of violence.
She noted that our state had just over 5,000 victims last year and here’s a startling statistic: one-fifth of the people affected by violence in North Dakota were in the Bismarck-Mandan and surrounding counties alone.
Since the pandemic hit, AARC had to innovate to help people who were isolated with their abuser.
So they created a way for victims to reach out virtually through a private confidential chat and now they’re encouraging the community to speak up on the reality of abuse.
Erickson says,”We really want people to be aware of it and speak out against it and say that it’s not ok.”
AARC is a crisis intervention and shelter program for domestic violence victims, sexual assault victims, human trafficking, stalking, and dating violence. They provide crisis help, safety planning, shelter, and transitional housing.
And during the month of October one Bismarck business decided to help. Co-owner of Unbranded Element Tina Wetzel says, “We are going to help them fill their shelves. their shelters are in need of pretty much some basic items. Shampoos, conditioners, wipes, sanitizer, stuff like that.”
Regardless of your location, there are many ways to get involved this month to help raise awareness in your own communities throughout the state.
Erickson made it a point to mention the fact that there are many who have lost their lives to domestic violence and said they’ll be posting stats and more information on their Facebook page throughout the whole month of October. They’re also looking for volunteers to help staff the chat feature.
She noted different types of abuse too –not just physical. Domestic violence doesn’t know race or income or where you live.
Erickson says it happens everywhere. It isn’t just hitting someone; it’s also isolating them, controlling their money, putting them down, or using their kids against them. These are all examples of things to be aware of in domestic violence circumstances. The good news is there are ways to get help.
There’s a 24-hour crisis line available for those seeking help as well as an office to stop in during business hours.
For information on how you can help raise awareness, volunteer, or donate to AARC go here.