Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

(My current series will continue next week. In the meantime, I wanted to share an important article with you written by a journalism student at Arizona State University. -- Kristy)

By Alexandra Whitten

The beginning of October marks the start of national Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Phoenix City Hall, which will be illuminated by purple lights throughout the month, hosted the Domestic Violence Awareness and Resource fair Thursday for the Paint Phoenix Purple campaign.

Paint Phoenix Purple was started in 2013 by the city to raise awareness for domestic violence. According to the city's website, the campaign's goal is to educate and provide resources for citizens and victims alike to one day reduce and eventually eliminate domestic violence.

The atrium of Phoenix City Hall filled with purple, the official awareness color that has a long history of association with domestic-violence prevention. Different organizations set up tables at City Hall to provide information for all who attended the fair.

Phoenix City Hall, Arizona.

Bobbi Sudberry, mother of Kaitlyn Sudberry, a victim of a domestic violence, set up a particular table on Thursday. Kaitlyn was 17 years old and ready to study wildlife sciences at Northern Arizona University. But she fell prey to a violent relationship.

"She was taken from us far too soon," Bobbi Sudberry said. Kaitlyn was murdered by her boyfriend the morning of January 8, 2008 after a break-up went horribly wrong.

After the loss of her daughter, Bobbi made it her mission to help victims of domestic violence through the organization Kaity's Way.

Bobbi also advocated for the passage of "Kaity's Law," which allows legal protection for those in relationships, romantic or sexual in nature. Victims are now able to obtain an order of protection, officers can arrest attackers with or without a warrant, and offenders receive three strikes including domestic violence. After the third strike, it becomes a felony.

Another group present was the Arizona Anti Trafficking Network, represented by Kathleen Winn, one of the founders of Paint Phoenix Purple. The AATN, according to the group's website, has the aim of ending sex, drug and human trafficking. The group was at the fair to show support for domestic-violence prevention.

"Although everyone who's a victim of domestic violence isn't a victim of trafficking, 100 percent of the victims of trafficking are victims of domestic violence," Winn said.

Paint Phoenix Purple also has collaborations with younger crowds. Sergio Gomez, community initiatives specialist for Paint Phoenix Purple, reaches out to schools for art and dance contests.

"On October the 15th, there will be a community event to highlight the youth who participated in our art contest and our dance contest this year," Gomez said.

This is year three of a five-year initiative for the event, and Gomez said so far it has been striving toward community reform, a youth task force and raising awareness.

To end the first night of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Paint Phoenix Purple hosted "Light up Arizona." Phoenix City Hall, the Maricopa County Administration Building, Tovrea Castle at Carraro Heights, and the lights in front of the Phoenix Convention Center were lit purple.

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