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Illuminating hope

ESTACADA NEWS PHOTO: EMILY LINDSTRAND - Firefighter Tom Benschoter strings purple lights in trees on Broadway Street. The lights will remain up throughout October in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month.With its Purple Night Lights campaign in downtown Estacada, Clackamas County hopes to illuminate awareness of domestic violence.

On the morning of Monday, Sept. 28, purple lights were strung from trees on Broadway Street by firefighter Tom Benschoter.

The lights will remain up throughout October in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Local businesses are encouraged to participate in the campaign by displaying purple lights in their storefronts.

Domestic violence affects many people, though it often goes unreported.

In the U.S., 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will experience this type of abuse in their lifetime.

Domestic Violence Awareness month began in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and in 1995, October was named National Domestic Violence Awareness month.

From its earliest days, the movement has sought to provide hope and resources to survivors and those who still live with abuse, as well as remember those who lost their lives to domestic violence.

The Purple Night Lights campaign was originally developed in Covington, Wash., (south of Seattle) in 2007. The campaign aims to support survivors, remember those who lost their lives to domestic violence and give hope to those still living with abuse.

Through the Purple Night Lights campaign, Clackamas County seeks to break down barriers and spread access to services.

As the lights went up downtown, Sarah Van Dyke of Clackamas County commented on their significance.

“The lights increase awareness and remind people to think about violence in their own lives and communities,” she said.

Clackamas County has been working to raise domestic violence awareness and resources in rural areas, including Estacada, for several years.

They strive to provide greater awareness of domestic violence and spread the message that it has no place in any community.

In 2013, the county received a grant that they used to bring several services to Estacada, including a counseling office, counseling home visits and a support group.

In keeping with the goal of breaking down barriers, services are available in both English and Spanish.

“We’re providing bicultural services to increase accessibility,” said Tiffany Hicks, domestic violence coordinator for Clackamas County.

Further services, including empowerment classes and counseling, are available at A Safer Place in Oregon City. Transportation to and from Oregon City is also available in order to better connect survivors with these services.

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