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Iris asks community to take a stand as domestic violence cases increase

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BATON ROUGE- Throughout the month of October, organizations and individuals across the nation are urging the public to be aware of how to prevent domestic violence and help survivors of abuse. 

Nearly seven months ago, when Louisiana joined the global community in fighting the spread of novel coronavirus, East Baton Rouge officials also prepared for a resulting increase in domestic violence cases.

Their preparations were based on historical data, which reveals that when stressful situations occur in communities, such as natural disasters and epidemics, cases of domestic violence often increase.

For example, following the devastating flood of 2016, as many East Baton Rouge Parish citizens dealt with the loss of their homes and belongings, an uptick in domestic violence incidents occurred. According to a report released by the District Attorney's Office, in the months following the flood, the Parish lost 14 of its residents to domestic violence. 

Sadly, EBR officials were correct in anticipating an uptick in domestic violence amid the coronavirus pandemic as the number of domestic violence cases in 2020 have surpassed those of 2016.

With the spread of COVID-19 forcing family members to stay home for months at a time, and even after stay-at-home orders were lifted, to remain in close quarters each others, spouses of abusive partners and children of abusive parents often find themselves being victimized more frequently.

As of October 2020, EBR Parish has mourned the loss of at least 18 individuals who were killed in domestic violence incidents.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) calls violence a "serious public health problem." And, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence one in three women and one in four men have experienced physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner.

Statistics do not even accurately represent the amount of cases that occur, as many survivors are too embarrassed or afraid to report their situations. 

The CDC recommends the following suggestions if someone you care about is experiencing abuse at the hands of a family member:

-Work with them to create a safety plan that outlines ways they can remain safe while in their current situation, planning to leave, or after they leave.

-Help them practice self-care as much as possible.

-Encourage them to maintain social connections through phone calls, texts, emails, and social media platforms.

Experts also recommend that friends and family members of those experiencing domestic abuse assist by, first of all, listening and letting the survivor talk about their experience. It's also recommended not to pressure the individual to take a particular action but to build their self-esteem and offer support by making them aware of local resources.  

Locally, the Iris Domestic Violence Center provides resources to EBR residents via its website and its 24-hour crisis hotline at (225) 389-3001. 

Survivors can also call Louisiana's Coalition Against Domestic Violence at 1-888-411-1333 for assistance.

Another way to assist is by promoting awareness of the problem and participating in ventures that do exactly this during the month of October.

For example, as domestic violence awareness is associated with the color purple, throughout October, people decorate their lives in the color purple – from t-shirts and ribbons to nail polish and hair color.

Purple was chosen to symbolize peace, courage, survival, honor and dedication to ending violence.

Wearing the color is tantamount to a salute to survivors and to those the community has lost to domestic violence.

Iris is asking everyone in EBR who wears purple or places a purple wreath on their doors to take a picture of it and post it to Iris's Facebook page or email it to them at  jrichards@stopdv.org

The organization typically holds an annual fundraiser, but due to COVID restrictions, this year Iris is hosting a month-long virtual fund instead. Money collected will assist the agency in its fight against domestic violence. 

For information on where to send donations to Iris, call (225) 389-3002.

For additional resources related to Domestic Abuse and Dating Partner Violence, please click here


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