PARKERSBURG - The Family Crisis Intervention Center is sponsoring a memorial balloon release and fundraiser in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month during October.
On Oct. 2, starting at noon there will be a brief program with the center's board members and staff. There will be moment of silence and a prayer to remember lives lost and to celebrate survivors. There will be music, then a balloon release to kick off October as awareness month. The activities will take place in Bicentennial Park.
On Oct. 12, the center will conduct a fundraiser spaghetti dinner and silent auction from 5-7 p.m. at the Vienna Community Building in Jackson Memorial Park. Adults are $6 and children will be $3. This event is being sponsored by the Parkersburg Area Realtors Association.
Emily Larkins, who has 13 years of experience at the FCIC, is the center's new executive director.
"October is set aside to try and raise awareness about domestic violence, obviously this is a topic that is a private issue and people don't like to talk about it. Some may not be familiar with it, but having this time helps the community come together to show their support and to talk about the importance of breaking the silence and breaking the cycle," Larkins said.
The local center is one of 14 licensed domestic violence centers in the state. The local center serves eight counties including Wood. All the state's centers serve more than one county.
For More Information
Go online to the state domestic violence coalition at www.wvcadv.org.
Information on the local shelter and services is available online at: www.fcichaven.org
The 24-hour hotline for the local center is: 1-800-794-2335 or 304-428-2333.
"It's a lack of education, some people just don't have any personal experience with domestic violence or know someone else who has. Some just don't want to acknowledge or discuss it, they just don't think it happens here," Larkins said.
The center provides a 24-hour victim hotline, shelter, parenting education, case management, legal advocacy, a Kids First intervention center, information and referral for mental health and other services, as well as speakers.
Larkins said the center is at capacity and has been full for several months. In 2011-2012, the center served 3,159. In 2010-2011, there were 2,939 served.
Every nine minutes, a call is made to a domestic violence hotline in West Virginia, according to Domestic Violence Counts, a census of shelter and services; 14,888 domestic violence cases were filed in West Virginia Family Court in 2010, according to the West Virginia Supreme Court's 2010 annual report.
According to the West Virginia Uniform Crime Report of the state police, one-third of all homicides in this state are related to domestic violence and domestic violence accounts for 22 percent of the violent crimes experienced by women in the U.S., according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
Larkins said the trend has been a need to house victims longer and victims are dealing with a multitude of issues including mental health, substance abuse, finding safe, affordable housing and sustainable employment.
The shelter is funded mostly through state and local grants, donations and fundraisers.