The CNMI will join the rest of the U.S. in observing National Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October, kicking off with a proclamation signing ceremony today at the Governor's Office on Capital Hill.
The Domestic Violence Awareness Month Committee members from the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence and the Family Violence Task Force are at the helm of the monthlong event dedicated to raising awareness about the issue.
This year's theme is “Choose Peace, Not Violence,” which challenges the people of the Northern Marianas to do their part to end domestic violence, according to committee chair Angelyn Nimwes.
“Throughout October, we will mourn for those whose lives were taken by domestic violence, celebrate the tremendous progress victim advocates have made over the years, and connect with one another with a true sense of unity to end domestic violence,” said Nimwes.
One in four women will be a victim of domestic violence at some point in her lifetime, with an average of three women being killed every day at the hands of a current or former intimate partner, according to a coalition leaflet.
The coalition said the economic downturn in the CNMI can aggravate the issue by having a devastating effect on local programs that serve survivors of abuse, providing fewer options for these survivors to break away from violence.
The 2012 Mary Kay Truth About Abuse Survey showed that a vast majority of domestic violence shelters experienced funding cutbacks even as nearly eight out of 10 of these shelters nationwide reported an increase in women seeking help.
Guma Esperansa, the only shelter for domestic violence victims in the CNMI, reported serving up to 78 victims in a day, based on the latest Domestic Violence Counts survey by the National Network to End Domestic Violence.
Guma Esperansa manager Lauri B. Ogumoro said the shelter was able to provide 5,090 bed nights and over 15,000 meals last year. The Domestic Violence Intervention Center, meanwhile, helped 66 victims obtain temporary restraining orders from violent and abusive partners.
“There are many more women, men, and children living with domestic violence than we can show with these numbers. Domestic violence affects everyone in our community,” added Nimwes.
The Domestic Violence Awareness Month will be leading village walks against violence every Wednesday, a Day of Unity on Oct. 8, village conversations, and exhibits at the Garapan Street Market.
For more information about the activities, call 234-3878 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you know anyone experiencing domestic violence and needs help, call the Karidat Victim Hotline at 234-5100.