By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – On an average day in Northeast Mississippi, at least one woman reports being the victim of domestic violence or asks for help leaving an abusive situation.
To educate residents on the everyday problem, one nonprofit is scheduling events and handing out purple ribbons in honor of October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Tupelo-based SAFE Inc. (Shelter and Assistance in Family Emergencies) had an average of 44 calls to its emergency hotline each of the last six months, with 35 calls in September.
“A lot of times people think of dating or domestic violence as actual physical violence, and that’s part of it, but a lot times there is more to it,” said Amelia Parkes, community educator for SAFE Inc. “Abusers start out by trying it out, testing to see what they can do and what kind of control they can get away with.”
The United States Department of Justice describes domestic violence as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, economic abuse and psychological abuse.
The SAFE Hotline, (800) 527-7233 is staffed 24 hours a day and abuse victims are encouraged to call if they plan on leaving their situation.
Parkes said victims should pack a bag, gather their personal and financial information and work out a plan with family or friends to make leaving easier.
“Dating violence and domestic violence go hand in hand,” Parkes said. “Just because someone doesn’t live with a victim doesn’t mean it can’t be an abusive relationship.”
Parkes will be hosting a dating violence talk at the Lee County Library on Monday.
“We’re talking to preteen and teenage, mostly girls, and talking about dating violence,” she said. “We want to give the girls a chance to understand different things that could be dating violence.”
The talk will start at 4 p.m. and include a time for questions and discussion.
“The parents are welcome too because a lot of times the children may not realize they’re in a violent situation so the parents can know what to look for as well.