While October is generally known for the coming of Halloween and the on set of the Holiday Season, the time of family gatherings, good will and love for all mankind. However, here on the Peninsula and across the nation October has been designated as Domestic Violence Awareness month, a time to be aware of serious crimes that was once a secret kept among families and not publicized in the media. It has become a tradition for the municipal mayors of the Borough to issue official proclamations encouraging community members to participate in local programs designed to reduce and even end the instances of domestic violence in Alaska.
At a recent Kenai Chamber of Commerce meeting Kenai Mayor Pat Porter read and presented a proclamation from the City of Kenai to Cheri Smith, the executive director of the LeeShore Center. "Governor Sean Parnell has made stopping domestic violence and assault a priority of his administration, so we are participating in many State and local activities designed toward that end. The LeeShore Center again is doing a 40 community awareness workshop on domestic violence and sexual assault and we have also been collaborating with the Kenaitze Indian Tribe who have a tribal forum coming up October 27th which is geared toward domestic violence and sexual assault in the native community," said Smith.
While Smith hopes to work herself out of a job someday she says the services provided at the LeeShore Center are still in high in demand, "We are making progress in
Community awareness, more and more people are getting involved to address the issues and we are doing a lot more with youth in our community. As you know domestic violence begins in the home, so being able to help youth make different choices especially when there is violence going on in the home will have positive outcomes in the future. Domestic violence is a secret, so an increase in services provided is not necessarily a bad thing because it also indicates that more and more people are aware that there are resources available in the community and when they come in they are breaking the secret and that's a good thing. There are no socioeconomic boundaries for domestic violence, it can happen in anyone's family or neighborhood and when you become aware of it you can call us if you don't know what to do and we can help people become supportive and get assistance to the person who has violence going on in their life," added Smith.
Mayor Porter in her proclamation stated, "Domestic violence impacts the quality of life of the entire community and stopping the cycle of this crime requires not only the resolve and courage of survivors, but also support and involvement from all of us. Enhanced education, prevention and intervention help increase public awareness of the severity and extent of domestic violence which is a problem that affects every socioeconomic level in our society, occurring in wealthy and disadvantaged neighborhoods and involving the employed and unemployed.
Domestic violence is generally learned and passed down from one generation to another and our society pays a high price for domestic violence through homelessness, increased crime rates, drug and alcohol abuse, increased medical expenses and business losses. During Domestic Violence Awareness Month the City of Kenai encourages all citizens to dedicate themselves to learning about reducing domestic violence and violence against women, and encourage all to support the domestic violence programs in the community, including The LeeShore Center."