St. Augustine, Fla. (Oct. 2, 2018) – From annual meetings and candlelight vigils to proclamations and joint events throughout Northeast Florida, Betty Griffin Center will focus public attention on Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) in October.

DVAM was originally initiated by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Betty Griffin Center is among hundreds of nonprofit agencies that join in a concerted effort across the nation to bring awareness to the horrible toll domestic abuse takes on our society.

In St. Johns County, the 14th fastest-growing county in the United States, the numbers continue to rise.

According to Betty Griffin Center CEO Joyce Mahr, the center reports a “significant increase” of over 50 percent in services it provides, while its shelter and transitional housing continue to remain over capacity. Mahr says more than 7,800 children in the County are exposed to domestic violence every year, and nearly 7,000 women may have experienced intimate partner violence during their lives.

“While we are making great strides in helping victims through our shelter, legal advocacy, counseling, supportive services, and educational programs in our community, it’s difficult to keep pace with the enormity of the problem,” she said.

The center provides safety planning and protective, emergency shelter to help those in abusive situations. Last year 424 victims of domestic and sexual violence received 24,000 nights of emergency shelter.

The following activities are slated in October to focus on the issue and are open to the public:

  • Thursday, Oct. 4 at 5:30 p.m. — Candle Vigil, St. Johns County Courthouse, 4010 Lewis Speedway, St. Augustine (Victims’ Garden)
  • Friday, Oct. 5 at 7:30 a.m. — Betty Griffin Center Annual Meeting/Breakfast at The River House, in St. Augustine (Suggested Donation of $10.00 to attend)
  • Friday, Oct. 5 — “A Day Without Violence” Calendar Winner’s Art Show Opening Reception at Flagler College Crisp Ellert Art Museum through Oct. 31
  • Tuesday, Oct. 9 at 9 a.m. – “A Day Without Violence” Calendar Winner Award Ceremony, St. Johns County School Board Meeting

There will be numerous speaking engagements at civic associations, churches, and other organizations throughout the County. The center will also have event sales at its two thrift stores at Anastasia Island and Julington Square locations during the month. There will be a Leadership Donor Society Recognition Event at the St. Johns Golf & Country Club on Oct. 29. Call 904-808-8544 (ext. 207) for more information.

In partnership with the St. Johns County Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, the center is giving window clings with the 24-hour helpline number to people to display in their businesses, car windows or other visible area throughout October and beyond.   “Through all these activities, our goal is to raise awareness of domestic violence and support for the center…along with all organizations that help victims of domestic violence in Northeast Florida,” Mahr said.

“We remember those whose lives have been cut short because of domestic violence and to honor those survivors who inspire us and give us hope,” Mahr said.  “Domestic violence is no longer a private matter, but a crime that impacts not only the immediate family and friends, but the entire community. “

Mahr said that in St. Johns County, there have been 14 domestic homicides by an intimate partner in the last five years.

“One is too many, so join in the community effort by using the hashtag #TakeAStand against domestic violence with your social media posts throughout the month,” she added.