Hoping purple lights guide abuse victims to a better life

by | Nov 3, 2023

As domestic abuse numbers climb, Woodstock Sanctuary House kicks off Family Violence Prevention Month with Purple Lights Night

The demands upon Woodstock’s Sanctuary House and other shelters for abused women and children continue to grow as intimate-partner violence remains a constant threat for many families.

To bring awareness to the plight, Sanctuary House hosted its second annual “Purple Light Night” event in Woodstock on Wednesday, Nov. 1, to kick off the Purple Nights campaign to run through November. 

The event, held at Citizen Square Park on Chapel Street, included music, giveaways, the lighting of purple lights and remarks from special guests, including Woodstock Police Force Chief Gary Forward and Mayor Trina Jones.

Sanctuary House intervention team member Melody Dickinson said Chief Forward shared “an alarming statistic” surrounding intimate partner violence (IPV) in Woodstock.

As he noted with concern during recent reports to Woodstock council, the chief cited a 47 per cent increase this year in IPV calls by his force.

During the Purple Lights Night event, Forward said his officers responded to 263 IPV calls since the beginning of this year.

Mayor Jones, who attended the Purple Lights kickoff and the Take Back the Night walk in September, described those numbers as shocking, pointing out those numbers represent almost one IPV call daily.

While designing the Purple Light Night event as a fun family outing, it also strived to deliver a stark and troubling message.

The event opened at 6:30 p.m. with music by Wyatt Morrel, followed by the addresses from Forward and Jones.

“There was hot chocolate, treat bags filled with purple candy and purple stickers for the kids and a cake made by Lana Dickinson,” said Melody Dickinson.

She explained each person attending the event received a purple glow stick, which they cracked open following a countdown to 7 p.m. in sync with the lighting of the trees and silhouette.

“We ended the night by giving away a purple hat donated by King Sports and a box of purple lights to the winner of the lucky ticket,” Dickinson explained.

The startling statistics highlight the need for increased awareness. Dickinson explained the rising IPV numbers combined with tough financial times and a housing crisis place an additional burden on victims and shelters.

“Our calls have increased, as well as the number of emergency intervention orders we do,” said Dickinson. “At the present moment, our shelter is full. In fact, we’ve had to turn some women away because of us having a full house.”

While the shelter, which serves a large section of the Upper St.John River Valley, offers emergency support for abuse victims, it is not designed as a long-term solution.

“Women who come to stay at the shelter often end up having to stay past our 30-day stay due to the shortage of housing,” Dickinson said. “And if they can’t find housing in their preferred area, they will either return to their partner or relocate elsewhere.”

In addition to serving as an emergency shelter, Woodstock Sanctuary House strives to educate, empower and support abuse victims.

Dickinson and co-workers and board members at Sanctuary House and other shelters encourage everyone to display purple lights outside their homes and businesses throughout November in recognition and awareness of Family Violence Prevention Month.

They hope the purple glow lights the path to brighter days for the still too many victims of violence.

Mayor Trina Jones speaks at the Purple Light Night kickoff event. (Submitted photo)
Everyone attending Purple Lights Night received a purple glow stick. (Submitted photo)
Woodstock Police Chief Gary Forward shared some alarming statistics about the level of intimate partner violence. (Submitted photo)
Area residents gather at Citizens Square Park in Woodstock for the Purple Lights Night kickoff event on Nov. 1. (Submitted photo)
A Purple Light Nights cake. (Submitted photo)

For road conditions, click the map

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have successfully subscribed! A confirmation email has been sent to your email account. To complete your subscription, open the email and click on the confirmation link. (If you can't find it in your inbox, try your junk and spam folders.) If you'd like to receive our updates more than once a week, please click the "Manage your subscription" link at the bottom of your Newsletter.