WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Advocates in the North Country are working to ensure that survivors of domestic violence are not alone.

October 1 marks the first day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month across the country. Locally, the Victim’s Assitance Center of Jefferson County is continuing its work to support current victims and survivors.

For Domestic Violence Awarness Month, the VAC is attempting to turn Jefferson County purple. Throughout the month of October North Country organizations, businesses and residents are encouraged to decorate buildings’ exteriors with purpose lights, ribbons, flowers and more. VAC Development Director Kristin Proven said she hopes this will bring more awareness to the cause.

“This month we’re asking all Jefferson County residents, business owners, organizations to participate in turning Jefferson county purple,” Proven said. “So we can raise awareness and make this known.”

According to Proven, domestic violence cases skyrocketed in 2020. Specifically, the VAC received 2,231 hotline calls and 1,665 response team calls. During this time, 5.078 adults and 3,526 children were served, and 210 individuals utilized its safe shelter. Proven said that these numbers are expected to be reported high again in 2021 and the center is prepared to support all survivors.

For those in emergency situations, the Victim’s Assistance Center runs a 24/7 hotline, where staff are on-call ready to provide assistance to those in need. This can be reached by calling 315-782-1855.

The VAC also leads Jefferson County’s safe shelter. This is a residential home that provides emergency safe housing to individuals and dependents facing a crisis situation. Staff work at the shelter “around the clock, every day of the year,” and provide residents with all amenities one would expect in a home.

Additionally, the Center provides support to individuals pursuing orders of protection, rights of crimes victims, various case management and provides mental health services. However, Proven said regardless of the situation, the Center wants victims and survivors to know, “you are not alone.”

In a message to survivors Proven shared, “we just want you to know that it’s never your fault. There’s no blame here. If you need someone to talk to please call our office and reach out to us. We’re here for you anytime.”

The Victim’s Assistance Center can also be reached during its normal office hours from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays at 315-782-1823. Below are additional resources on the local state level:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • National Domestic Violence text line: Text “START” to 88788
  • New York Domestic Violence text line: 844-997-2121
  • New York Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-942-6906