Downtown Winston-Salem Raises Awareness for Domestic Violence
A purple wooden cutout of a human silhouette stands watch in the lobby of the Winston-Salem Police Department on Cherry Street. Pinned to the center of the cutout’s chest is a story that details the death of Sgt. Mickey Hutchens, a victim of domestic violence.
Seventeen cutouts and stories of different Winston-Salem locals who have been killed as a result of domestic violence have been placed all over the city as part of Winston-Salem’s annual domestic violence awareness month.
The month of October has been nationally recognized as domestic violence awareness month since 1987. The Winston-Salem police department has been involved in putting on a program within the community to raise awareness about domestic violence since 2015 according to Lt. E.R. Montgomery.
“The whole goal is just to create as much awareness as possible throughout the city especially during the time of October,” said Montgomery.
As part of the campaign, the color purple has been injected into the city. Purple ribbons adorn trees in parks and along streets while purple lights bathe many of downtown’s buildings. Winston-Salem police cruisers sport a purple ribbon magnet and the purple silhouettes of those who lost their lives to domestic violence can be seen standing watch in businesses and government buildings around Winston-Salem.
The Winston-Salem Police Department has spearheaded the project in coordination with local agencies such as Eliza’s Helping Hands and Family Services, which both act as shelters and provide a variety of services to domestic violence victims such as counseling and trauma therapy.
“We focus on domestic violence victims, sexual assault victims, and human trafficking victims,” said Kenya Thornton, founder of Eliza’s Helping Hands, “Our focus is to serve victims and not just female victims. We service male victims, children, same-sex couples… a variety.”
One of Eliza’s Helping Hands’ fundraisers and a staple of domestic violence awareness month in Winston-Salem is called “Dine out for DV.” As a part of this event, over 25 restaurants located all over the Winston-Salem area donated 10 percent of their earnings on Tuesday, October the 10th to Eliza’s Helping Hands. Included in the lineup were downtown locations such as Finnigan’s Wake, Mary’s Gourmet Diner, Jeffrey Adams, and Camel City BBQ.
Opie Kirby, owner of Finnigan’s Wake, said that restaurants tend to be hotspots for charity solicitation, and because of this, they are sometimes forced to be choosy. For domestic violence awareness month, however, Kirby felt that not participating wasn’t an option. Kirby said that the most important reason to participate was to bring exposure and awareness to the problem that is domestic violence.
“We do things that we believe in,” said Kirby, “I think it’s a no-brainer.”
In only it’s second year, Dine out for DV has grown in size and Thornton hopes this means an increase in the amount of money raised. In 2016, 10 restaurants made about 5,000 dollars for Eliza’s Helping Hands.
“That was last years so I hope [this year’s] will be double that,” said Thornton.