For the month of October, SAFE San Juans hopes to make the islands glow purple in honor of the victims of domestic violence.
Trees and buildings around the county will feature purple-hued lights to bring awareness of the issue.
“Each October, we do domestic violence awareness month, and we were looking to add a bit more to our October campaign this year, and trying to find something that the whole community could get involved in a little more,” said Executive Director Kim Bryan.
Purple Light Nights began in Covington, Washington, in 2006. Since purple is the cause color for domestic violence, the Covington Domestic Violence Task Force devised a subtle way to bring recognition of the problem to its community. SAFE San Juans heard of the initiative a few years back, Bryan explained, but has just now been able to facilitate the start of an annual event in the San Juans.
“Having these on the trees and various places, in prominent places, on all three islands – it’s just going to help us to shed light on the issue of domestic violence,” she said.
SAFE San Juans (formerly DVSAS) is a nonprofit agency whose mission is the prevention and elimination of domestic violence and sexual assault through victim services, education, community awareness and cultural and social change.
SAFE requested permission from both The Town of Friday Harbor and the San Juan County Council to put up solar and battery powered lights around the county along with laminated signs explaining their purpose. The silhouettes of domestic violence victims will be on display for the month as well.
“We try to do things in the community that will start that conversation, break that silence, and engage the community without putting it in your face,” Bryan said. “So we’re kind of trying to do both. … We just felt like these lights will obviously draw more attention at night.”
SAFE San Juans plans to expand the community participation next year by providing light bulbs to businesses and residences in advance of the campaign.
“We’re going to have purple light bulbs for households to put on their porch lights outside,” Bryan said. “Eventually, we’d love to see all the islands purple all October.”
According to organizers, the lights are there to remind everyone to remember the victims; to support those who survived domestic abuse; and to provide hope for those still living with abuse.
“Because, sadly, we know there are a lot of homes in our communities that are still living this now,” Bryan said. “There’s life beyond domestic violence. We, as an agency, are here to help.”