Purple lights illuminate awareness, education and support

Shine a purple light bulb during the month of October to support the Purple Light Nights campaign against domestic violence.

The Purple Light Nights campaign begins Oct. 1 at Ken's Tire & Wheel. Pick up a purple light bulb or wristband to show that there is no place for domestic violence in our community.

The Purple Light Nights campaign begins Oct. 1 at Ken's Tire & Wheel. Pick up a purple light bulb or wristband to show that there is no place for domestic violence in our community.

Purple lights have shone in Chilliwack for six Octobers now. They are a beacon of hope and a means of sparking a necessary conversation.

The essence of that conversation hasn’t changed, “domestic violence has no place in our community,” Beverly Coles explains.

Domestic Violence Awareness Month begins with the Purple Light Nights tree-lighting on October 1 at 6:30 p.m. at Ken’s Tire & Wheel (45798 Alexander Ave).

Purple Light Nights arose in Covington, Washington in 2007 to address the need to provide the community with awareness and education of healthy relationships, and to support and honour victims of domestic violence.

Coles, Specialized Victim Assistance coordinator at Chilliwack Community Services, and member of the Violence Against Women in Relationships (VAWIR) committee, brought the campaign to Chilliwack, knowing that “yes, domestic violence happens in our community,” and no, it will not be ignored.

Coles expressed the importance of bringing attention to the devastating impact that domestic violence has on victims, families and children, in our community and elsewhere.

The campaign also serves to educate people about what a healthy relationship entails. Particularly for youth entering relationships, it’s critical for them to consider “am I being respectful?”

Of the 78,00 reported incidents of intimate partner violence against women in Canada in 2011, young women aged 15 to 24 were most at risk.

For those living with abuse, the purple lights provide hope. They can choose to reach out for help in the manner that is safest for them, be it a trusted friend, a transition house, or an organization like Chilliwack Community Services.

“It’s all about safety,” Coles explains “and showing them that they don’t have to be alone.”

used photoThe campaign, which has spread across 28 states and three provinces, has been successful in raising awareness thus far. “It’s become very well-known, I can mention it to someone and, chances are, they’ve heard of it,” Coles explains.

There are 650 purple light bulbs and, new to this year, 1000 wristbands available by donation at various locations in Chilliwack. As an indication of the campaign’s growth, the bulb demand increases every year.

The VAWIR committee invites members of the community to use purple, the anti-violence colour, through bulbs, wristbands, clothing or storefront decor to show their support and spark the conversation from October 1 to 31.

Pick up a bulb and a band at the tree lighting on October 1, or at a participating location nearest you.

If you have questions or concerns about domestic violence, visit domesticviolencebc.ca or call the help-line anytime at 1-800-563-0808.

Learn more about the program at purplelightnights.org.