For an amazing example of the power of community-based activism, look no further than the Purple Light Nights campaign against domestic violence.
The Covington Domestic Violence Task Force was formed in 2004 to help raise public awareness and support victims of abuse through various types of assistance and referral services. The color of purple is an international symbol of efforts to stem domestic violence, so Victoria Throm came up with an idea: Place purple lights throughout Covington as a way to remember people who have lost their lives due because of domestic violence and to tell survivors that there is hope and support.
Throm, the president of the task force, started something big. There are now 16 domestic violence awareness groups in nine states – some all the way in the opposite corner of the country in Maine – participating in Purple Light Nights. And Throm hopes the campaign will be in all 50 states a year from now.
Closer to home, King, Pierce, Thurston and Snohomish counties and the city of Seattle are conducting Purple Light Night drives during October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The campaign also has the endorsement of local, state and federal government leaders, including Washington Secretary of State Rob McKenna and U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, whose district includes Covington and Maple Valley.
Money from sponsorships and the sales of purple lights to hang at homes and businesses goes to programs that help victims overcome the emotional and physical trauma of domestic violence.
Besides the organizational skills of people like Throm, the credit for Purple Light Nights’ success goes to community members who, as Throm says, want to “get that message out that domestic violence has no place in our community.” May it always be thus.
Publisher/editor Pat Jenkins