October sheds light on domestic violence

Have you noticed the conspicuous purple footprints around campus?

Erie City Hall, Gannon University, local high schools and Mercyhurst University placed these footprints for people to become aware of the Purple Footprints initiative, one of many programs SafeNet has started in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which runs through October.

SafeNet, a local non-profit organization, has been working throughout Erie to educate people and spread awareness on domestic violence. Though they work year-round providing counseling, education and care to victims, they have used this month to spread the word on the many programs and services they offer and shed light on a serious issue.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. It is considered one of the most underreported crimes in the country and can leave substantial impacts on a victim for the rest of their life.

SafeNet’s programs provide many services for these victims of domestic violence who need assistance. The organization runs an emergency shelter for any woman, man and child escaping domestic violence, giving them 30 days to get back on their feet and benefit from counseling and other services provided.

Additionally, SafeNet provides services for young moms between the ages of 16-21 through the TLC Program. Whether or not they are victims of domestic violence, this program provides services for these young mothers to earn a high school degree or work toward a program in a specific field of work.

SafeNet also provides a Bridge Housing program, allowing those who need extra time to stay anywhere between one to two years while completing life skills programs that will benefit them after leaving.

Rachel Brown, a graduate from the class of 2012, has become actively involved with SafeNet since her time at Mercyhurst. Brown’s work with SafeNet began her freshman year at Mercyhurst, when she completed an internship with the organization for her social welfare minor. She decided that was where she wanted to be after graduation.

As part of the outreach support staff, her duties include creating outreach events for Erie campuses and young adults, counseling, and organizing conferences and other events to raise awareness for domestic violence.

“Working directly with survivors has shown me the huge difference that social services can make in people’s lives, helping them to get through life’s hardships and come out on the other end,” said Brown.

For more information on SafeNet and their programs, please visit www.safeneterie.org. Students who need assistance for domestic violence can go to the Counseling Center or call the confidential SafeNet Crisis Hotline at (814) 454-8161.