Some 30 years ago, CEASE opened its doors to address local domestic violence and sexual assault issues. The nonprofit organization quickly expanded into six counties, including Claiborne.
Two shelters, located in Hamblen and Claiborne counties, welcome women and children today into a safe environment where they can begin the arduous task of rebuilding their lives.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the organization is in the midst of preparing for its annual Candlelight Vigil.
This year, Executive Director Paula Billingsley says the nonprofit will also be selling purple glow light bulbs as part of the nationally-recognized “Purple Light Nights” (PLN) campaign.
The project, begun six years ago as a local effort in Washington State, is today an annual event in 23 states. The campaign has been picked up in Canada and Guam, as well.
The concept is simple. Purchase 60 or 75 wattage black-light bulbs (when turned on they will glow purple) and prominently display them on residential porches or business windows each night.
The creators of the campaign say the message they hope it sends is twofold.
“These light bulbs glowing purple from homes and businesses will send a consistent message that our town is aware of domestic violence and that we are willing to do whatever it takes to foster healthy relationships,” said PLN co-founder Victoria Throm.
Billingsley says her organization decided to enter the campaign “on the coattails” of Claiborne resident Courtney Conley, who first made the CEASE director aware of the national project.
“I thought it would be a good way locally to bring domestic violence out into the open. It seems like nobody wants to speak about it,” said Conley, adding that she feels shame should be leveled on abusers who continue to perpetrate the crime.
“Something as simple as a purple glowing light bulb on someone’s porch could be the key to getting people talking about abuse and, for those caught in it, to leave the abusive situation,” she said.
Local PLN chapters provide assistance and service referrals to victims of domestic violence and supports policies that meet victim needs, while holding the perpetrators accountable.
CEASE is holding its annual Candlelight Vigil “Hope Out of the Dark” on Oct. 15, beginning at 6:30 p.m., at the Claiborne Justice Center.
For more information, or to purchase the black-light bulbs, you may call 800-304-2220.
CEASE covers Claiborne, Grainger, Hamblen, Hancock, Hawkins and Union counties with 24/7 assistance.
The crisis hotline number is 800-303-2220.
Claiborne Progress|Civitas Media, LLC