'Bring awareness to the silent violence': October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

compass_center

Erin Hamilton, the Director of Education Programs at Compass Center for Women and Families (center), greets a guest at The Crunkleton.

The Compass Center for Women and Families, a Chapel Hill organization that supports domestic violence victims, hosts a series of events throughout Domestic Violence Awareness Month. A kickoff happy hour at the Crunkleton Tuesday raised money for the center.

The Compass Center's 24/7 hotline is 919-929-7122

Erin Hamilton, director of education programs at the Compass Center, helped run the event.

“The thing about domestic violence is that traditionally it has been a hidden violence and people don’t like to talk about it outside the home,” she said. “Part of what we do is breaking up that myth that it is something that you have to suffer through in silence.”

Attendees at the happy hour event had different backgrounds, but they shared the same passion for raising awareness of domestic violence. Ennis Baker is a social worker who specializes in early childhood mental health.

“I am a big supporter of the Compass Center,” she said. “They do a lot for the families that we work with. Domestic violence is one of the many topics that is hard to talk about.”

Baker said when something is hard to talk about, then it is easily forgotten. Promoting awareness is about helping people recognize how common domestic violence is in their communities.

“We all have the responsibility to learn more and do more,” she said.

Hamilton said Orange County does not have a domestic violence shelter, but having one nearby would help the Compass Center.

“Not having a domestic violence shelter in Orange County, I think, puts a huge gap in our services to survivors and their families,” she said.

Christie Pettitt-Schieber, a graduate student in the Public Health Leadership Program, has been researching this issue in Orange County for a policy development class.

“We talked to (Chapel Hill Town) Council member Sally Greene about what the city’s plan is with constructing a domestic violence shelter in Chapel Hill,” she said.

Pettitt-Schieber said the town council said they were worried about affording the shelter and that its location would not be hard for the abuser to find in a small town like Chapel Hill, even if it was in an undisclosed location.

To make up for the absence of a local shelter, the Compass Center has an emergency housing fund. This money provides temporary emergency hotel placement and covers cab fees to take victims to shelters in other counties.

People who are not involved with the Compass Center can still help promote awareness and help victims of domestic violence.

“I think reaching out and being someone that is easy to talk to, a good listener and not being quick to tell people what to do is what can be very helpful to people suffering from domestic violence,” Baker said.

“We need to get better at just listening and being a support without telling people what to do.”

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