Victim’s Assistance Center stands with survivors as domestic violence rates increase in Jefferson County


WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — Over 700 purple flags now stand outside the Victim’s Assistance Center of Jefferson County in downtown Watertown. Each, with its own important message.

According to VAC Development Director Kristin Proven, each stands for a domestic violence case the center has handled in 2021. Overall since January 1, there have been 763 cases in Jefferson County alone.

“Each flag represents someone who has experienced some sort of trauma in relation to domestic violence,” Proven said. “Whether it’s physical, sexual, emotional, or financial domestic violence.”

Domestic violence rates in Jefferson County are on the rise. Proven said in 2020, the VAC had 959 cases total from January to December. The 2021 rate is already expected to exceed last year’s numbers.

To bring awareness to the issue, the purple flags outside of the VAC serve as a reminder to the community as the Center continues to observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“When you drive by our office and you see all the purple flags out, just take a minute of your time to think about the survivors of domestic violence,” Proven expressed. “Think about what you can do as a community member to raise awareness, and what you can do to be an upstander, not a bystander, let people know that it’s not okay to treat people like that.”

The flags also serve as a message of support to survivors, Proven said. They aim to remind individuals that they are not alone.

“We just want to let the survivors know that we have helped, that we are still here for you and we’ll continue to be here for you. And we wanted to represent what you’ve gone through,” Proven added. “Also if you’re haven’t come forward and you haven’t talked about your traumas yet, when you are ready, we are here for you.”

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

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