The annual Purple Light Nights 2016 campaign kicks off Monday

The annual Purple Light Nights 2016 campaign kicks off Monday

Opinion: Shining a light

Purple Light Nights offer a beacon of hope and information for those dealing with domestic violence

Those purple lights you see showing up in Chilliwack windows this month aren’t a sign of an early Christmas.

They’re a reminder of something far less merry: domestic violence.

Every year in October the lights come on to illuminate what is too often a hidden crime. They not only bring awareness, they also offer hope.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the annual Purple Light Nights campaign has been a part of that campaign since 2007.

The message is a simple one: Domestic violence – in any of its forms – has no place in the community.

For that to happen, we must first be aware of its prevalence. According to police, roughly 25 per cent of families are affected by domestic violence. Not only are the repercussions immediate, they can have long term consequences, creating a pattern of abuse that can extend through generations.

Second, we need the courage to stand up to domestic violence when we see it.

Too often, it is a crime that goes unreported, say RCMP, either by the victim, or by those who are reluctant to get involved. Police urge people to speak up and contact RCMP if they suspect abuse.

But enforcement is only one tool. Education is another.

Part of the Purple Light Nights campaign is to inform people what services and supports exist in the community.

Because help is available, says Darlene Wahlstrom, Victim Services coordinator for Chilliwack RCMP.

People simply need to ask.

For information about the Purple Light Nights campaign, contact Beverly Coles of Chilliwack Community Services Specialized Victim Services, 604-792-4267 or visit www.purplelightnights.org.