The evergreen tree was lit up with strings of purple bulbs Wednesday night marking the official kickoff of Purple Light Nights 2014 in Chilliwack.
A key part of the Purple Light Nights campaign is defining what relationship violence is actually about, said Beverly Coles of Specialized Victim Services.
“Last year we talked about having a conversation, each one of us, a conversation about domestic violence,” she said in her speech. “This year we continue that conversation.”
The purple lights are not only a conversation starter but also stand as a visual tribute to the many survivors and victims of violence.
“By raising awareness we hope to define what relationship violence is all about, how it starts, how it continues and what we can do about stopping it,” said Coles. “The first thing we need to do is acknowledge that women and vulnerable people are hurt in our communities every day in British Columbia.”
She told the small crowd at Ken’s Tire and Wheel, that 164 women are physically or sexually abused every day in B.C.
“That’s 60,000 every year.”
She also made it crystal clear that relationship violence is about the vulnerable person in the relationship, “and there are times that that vulnerable person is also a man.”
The PLN was adopted locally in 2006 by members of the Chilliwack Violence Against Women in Relationships committee.
The Violence Against Women in Relationships committee is a broad-based community effort, that involves service providers working to prevent violence, picking up the pieces after the violence occurs, and supporting those affected. The committee includes reps from: RCMP, Community Corrections both RCMP Victim Services and Chilliwack Community Services’ Specialized Victim Services, Ann Davis and Wilma’s Transition Houses and Jean Scott Transition House in Hope, social workers both in the hospital and in child protection, Crown Counsel, Stroh Health Care, Family Justice, AV Counselling, Chilliwack Community Services’ Family Support, and the Mennonite Central Committee End Abuse Program.
The purple bulbs are available at local businesses and offices by donation.
“Turn on the lights!” said Coles.