Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence

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Contact: Suzanne Cecala, Press Office NYS Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (518) 457-5744 suzanne.cecala@opdv.ny.gov

http://www.opdv.ny.gov/

For immediate release: October 30, 2008

New York State Turning Purple for October

Structures Illuminated Purple, Employees Wear Purple To Promote Awareness of Domestic Violence

All across the state, things have been coming up purple. The Mid-Hudson Bridge’s lights shone violet, the Brooklyn Borough Hall lit up the night in purple, and Niagara Falls poured over mountain sides giving new meaning to the “purple mountains majesty.” All of these symbols were part of NYS’ first call to the people of the State to shine the light on domestic violence by turning the state purple.

To raise public awareness about domestic violence, the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence for the first time invited all New Yorkers to participate in a broad effort to "shine the light on domestic violence by turning the state purple." The color purple represents courage, survival, honor and has come to symbolize the dedication to ending domestic violence.

"The simple act of switching on a purple light is serving as visual reminder that we will not tolerate domestic violence in New York State," said Governor David A. Paterson, who signed a proclamation declaring October Domestic Violence Awareness Month. "By increasing awareness, we are spurring conversation about how we can work together to support and protect some of our most vulnerable citizens."

The idea for this initiative was sparked by Haven House, a domestic violence service provider in Erie County, which had Niagara Falls lit purple one night last October. Amy Barasch, Executive Director of the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) saw the potential for a statewide month-long event and plans to grow it each year.

Director Barasch said, “What better way to bring domestic violence out of the shadows than by literally shining a bright light across the State? If these efforts caused anyone to stop and ask “Why,” then it worked, because it got people talking. This problem affects hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers every year, and requires that we all lend a hand to making it stop. I am encouraged that in our first year so many individuals, as well as public and private organizations, rose to the challenge and found innovative ways to participate.”

“Our hope was that seeing the natural wonderthat is Niagara Falls illuminated withpurple lights at night would call attention to the ongoing needfor all of us to work together toend the tragedy of domestic violence, and it is so gratifying to see so many others joining us in this effort,” said Katey Joyce, vice president of Restorative Justice Services and director of Haven House for Child & Family Services.

Other structures that were illuminated purple include: Alfred E. Smith State Office Building (Albany); Henry Moore sculpture at SUNY Purchase College; Electric Tower (Buffalo); Delaware Opportunities Safe Against Violence (Delhi); Homeless and Travelers Aid Society (Albany); The Shops at Atlas Park (Queens, NYC).

A wide range of groups joined this effort in a variety of ways, from illuminating facilities, to dressing in purple, to hosting informational events. The supporters we know of come from the public, private and not-for-profit sectors and include: Child & Family Services’ Haven House, NYS Bridge Authority, NYS Office of General Services, Seneca Falls Savings Bank/Seneca Falls Merchants’ Association, Family Justice Center of Erie County, SUNY Purchase College, Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office and the Brooklyn Borough President, NYS Division of Criminal Justice Services, NYS Tax & Finance, NYS Office of Children and Family Services, NYS Department of Health, the Oneida County One-Stop (NYS Department of Labor), NYS Commission on Judicial Conduct, Cayuga County Sheriff’s Office, NYS Chiefs of Police Association, NYS Consumer Protection Board, NYS Coalition Against Domestic Violence, NYS Crime Victims Board, and NYS Governor’s Office of Employee Relations.

Menzo D. Case, President of the Seneca Falls Savings Bank, said, “With over thirty people helping us, mostly young adults from nearby high schools, we “chalked” the sidewalks purple on 95% of downtown Seneca Falls and provided all participants with posters and brochures about domestic violence. Our company is committed to participating in events next October in each of our markets.”

OPDV’s suggestions to groups wishing to participate included lighting buildings and structures purple and placing a purple awareness banner on websites, but enthusiastic participants took the challenge to the next level by creating awareness events that included employees wearing purple, lobby displays with local domestic violence program staff on-site, publications, purple ribbons and balloons.

“Our ‘Wear Purple to Work Day’ provided an opportunity for OCFS staff to focus attention on domestic violence,” said NYS Office of Children and Family Services (OCFS) Commissioner Gladys Carrión, Esq. “Thirty to sixty percent of all child welfare cases involve domestic violence. By doing something as simple as wearing purple, we were able to highlight how central this issue is in our work at OCFS.”

The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence (OPDV) is a state agency charged with improving the response to and prevention of domestic violence. OPDV provides guidance to Executive level staff on policy and legislation and conducts statewide community outreach and public education programs. OPDV trains professionals on addressing domestic violence in a wide array of disciplines, including child welfare, law enforcement, local district social service providers, and health care professionals.

Photos are can be viewed on OPDV’s website. Some may be available in high res for reproduction; contact Suzanne Cecala.