WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and local agencies are working hard to bring awareness to the community about domestic violence.

Statistics from the National Domestic Violence Hotline show that an average of 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States.

Agencies in the North Country are reaching out to help victims in local communities.

Domestic violence rates in the region are worsening, according to the Victims Assistance Center of Jefferson County.

“Our numbers continue to rise,” VAC Development Director Kristen Proven said. “The good thing about awareness is that it does bring the community information about how they can seek services and that it really is happening.”

The Victims Assistance Center offers several programs in the region for victims of violence, including advocacy work, case management, mental health services and assistance obtaining orders of protection.

Proven said the center is bringing awareness to what happens “Behind Closed Doors,” and how some victims may not know domestic violence is happening to them.

“Domestic violence comes in many forms, whether it’s physical, sexual, emotional, financial even,” Proven said.

The Victims Assistance Center operates the only safe shelter in Jefferson County, which provides emergency safe housing to individuals and their dependent children in crisis.

As the issue is also prevalent among the North Country’s military community, Fort Drum’s Family Advocacy Program is spreading awareness through education.

“We try to create a lot of awareness throughout the entire installation with static displays, outreach tables, programs…we do a lot of paint with your mate programs with stress management within a relationship,” Family Advocacy Program Educator Tom Wojcikowski said.

The Family Advocacy Program decorated Fort Drum’s Clark Hall for the month of October with educational resources and messages of hope, aiming to help remind military families that they are not alone.

“Realizing some of the hardships that our military families go through and some of the added stress that they go through, really, it helps us focus on that foundational stuff,” Family Development Educator Nicole Wetzel said.

The program also utilizes home visitors and victim advocates in its effort to prevent domestic and child abuse.

For those seeking support, the Victims Assistance Center, Fort Drum and the National Domestic Abuse Hotline offer 24/7 assistance.

  • Victim’s Assistance Center 24-hour hotline: 315-782-1855
  • Fort Drum Crisis Hotline: 315-955-4321
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233