Phoenix is “painting” itself purple this month as part of a campaign to inform the public of domestic violence-related issues.
A domestic violence workgroup, consisting of more than 50 community leaders and city of Phoenix staff, was tasked by city management to explore short- and long-term solutions to the issue.
The workgroup pulled together a comprehensive plan of ways to inform the public, reform the way domestic violence cases are handled and expand resources available to victims.
The city partnered up with The O’Connor House Program for Women & Justice, which has been working in the area of domestic violence reform for almost five years, as well as the Arizona Coalition Against Domestic Violence to develop and carry out a strategic plan.
In observance of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the city launched Paint Phoenix Purple and commenced to bathe downtown in purple lights, hang up awareness posters, put the Paint Phoenix Purple logo on the Convention Center in the heart of the city and place ribbons on vehicles. The Phoenix Public Library even developed a new bookmark for the campaign.
“Paint Phoenix Purple is kind of the face of the campaign,” Human Services Director Deanna Jonovich said.
Posters were also sent out to various ASU departments, public housing departments, schools and businesses like Circle K that have partnered with the city in support of the campaign, Jonovich said.
During October, community members wishing to take part in Paint Phoenix Purple can wear purple ribbons and clothing, change outdoor light bulbs to purple, hang up posters and educate those around them on the issue through conversation, email and social media.
People can visit paintphoenixpurple.org and use the site’s “31 facts for 31 days” to post a fact a day this month about domestic violence.
Mayor Greg Stanton and other city officials have also issued public service announcements on domestic violence.
The city’s goal, according to Jonovich, is to become a national model on how to handle the issue.
Last year, the city recognized that domestic violence was the leading 911 call for violent crime responded to by police.
With 24 detectives handling over 15,000 reports last year, each detective was assigned more than 600 cases. This means there was a new report assigned every three hours to each detective.
The city believes that change will come after a reform of the legal system is implemented but will also require a lot of community involvement and a shift in attitude toward domestic violence to actually make the difference.
One of the focuses of the campaign is to educate employers and businesses, so they can recognize when there is a situation that needs addressing and know what to do when an employee comes to them with a problem, Jonovich said.
While the campaign partnered up with various businesses and organizations to spread the word among the working demographic, the campaign also focused on educating teens and bringing in school involvement.
The Phoenix Union High School District was invited to participate in an art contest encouraging students to make awareness posters.
The posters were judged on Oct. 8. The first, second and third place winners will be announced on Oct. 18 and displayed at a press conference later that day.
Phoenix Youth and Education Manager Tim Valencia said the winners will also be displayed at November’s First Friday event in downtown Phoenix, though the location has not yet been decided.
Schools are also holding a “Door Contest,” in which classrooms can decorate their door with purple, and will be judged on Oct. 24.
Community members also burst into dance at the two flash mobs that occurred at this months’ First Friday and at CityScape on Oct. 1.
The Paula Barr Dance Academy choreographed routines for the song “I Will Survive” and put up a Youtube tutorial video for those interested in participating.
Various Phoenix high schools still plan on carrying out flash mobs during their lunches later this month.
“The flash mobs were something that other states have done for domestic violence,” Valencia said. “It was an idea that we all became excited about, and it was really a collective effort to bring them together.”
The city’s efforts are aimed at providing solutions to victims who are in domestic violence situations that are difficult to get away from.
“We’re really looking into how people can access beds, as well as agents that help with transitioning them out,” Jonovich said. “We’re also looking at systems that are already in place and how we can improve the systems.”
As part of the long-term strategic work plan, reforms are planned to occur in employee policies, law enforcement and legislative policies, the justice system and overall awareness and education.
The Phoenix Public Library is also hosting a number of programs and trainings this month.
“Teen Dating Violence Awareness & Prevention” will be on Oct. 19 at the Ironwood Library, “Healthy Boundaries, Healthy Children,” Family Storytime, will be on Oct. 19 at the Cholla Library and “Teen Dating and Relationships” will be on Oct. 31 at Burton Barr Central Library.
More information on what you can do and what is being done can be found at paintphoenixpurple.org.
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