Spreading awareness during Domestic Violence Month

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – It’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Transylvania University women’s field hockey and soccer teams are helping to spread awareness and break the stigma around speaking up.

The teams came together to paint more than seventy “Peace Pumpkins” purple, the color for domestic violence awareness. The pumpkins can be found around Lexington at businesses and community centers.

Transy women’s field hockey player Catherine Harney remembers walking alongside a friend who was a victim of sexual violence.

“I know she is really very still kind of timid and shy, and so it’s really important that I’m always there for her. And that I support her and uplift her,” said Harney.

She says she was thinking of her as she painted the pumpkins.

“It was definitely a good way for me to remember her and make sure that she was included and knowing that I could help in another way than just one,” said Harney.

Kentucky is second in the nation for domestic violence, with one in three women experiencing some form of intimate partner violence in their lifetime. The numbers are especially high for women ages 16 to 24, according to Jennifer Lainhart, Executive Director of Hope’s Wings, a domestic violence program in Richmond.

“21 to 30 percent of women in college or college age women will experience some type of intimate partner violence during their college careers. Again, that’s a pretty significant number for that crime,” said Lainhart.

Transy women’s soccer player Abby Baker says painting the pumpkins is a way to openly talk about the subject. She says she feels the issue is often kept quiet on college campuses.

“We’re usually told to go to counselors, or talk to other people that are in higher places or higher authorities, but we’re never really allowed to express it on campus and be like, ‘this is an issue we need to fix, so let’s fix it,’ so I think this was definitely an empowering event that allowed us to come together and really express ourselves,” said Baker.

Each “Peace Pumpkin” has a QR code which links to local domestic violence resources. People are encouraged by the Domestic and Sexual Violence Prevention Coalition to show support by painting a pumpkin purple, or posting a photo of purple pumpkins with the hashtags “#PeacePumpkins” and “#LexStopDSV.”

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