Local groups to empower voiceless victims

A photo of Face of a Survivor CEO Tessa Milne, Maricopa Police Department Community Support Specialist Jim DeVenezia, Torri Anderson and DOVES Network Advocacy Director Renee Glaze. [Courtesy of Tessa Milne]

A local group is painting the city purple to raise awareness about a crisis affecting more than 10 million Americans every year.

Face of a Survivor is wrapping up Domestic Violence Awareness Month with an informational event called Spotlight Saturday at Hope Women’s Center this Saturday, Oct. 28.

During the event, representatives from Face of a Survivor, DOVES Network, Hope Women’s Center, Against Abuse and the Maricopa Police Department will provide resources, answer questions and host a roleplaying experience for attendees.

Face of a Survivor CEO Tessa Milne said Spotlight Saturday will provide resources and awareness for a silenced segment of the population.

“When a victim is coming out of an abusive relationship or situation — especially when it’s very, very fresh — they’re not necessarily resourceful because they’ve been so isolated,” Milne said. “By having these events and deliberately putting out that information, we are helping them become resourceful so that way they can help themselves.”

The event includes an interactive segment hosted by the women’s center called “In Her Shoes,” a group activity that allows participants to gain a better understanding of the complexity and trauma domestic violence situations entail.

It’s a roleplaying experience where participants read the story of a fictional adult or teen enduring abuse and navigating a series of decisions to seek help.

Through that process, participants learn about the obstacles victims experience, Milne said.

“There’s isolation, conditioning and emotional investment victims can have in their abusers that others may not understand,” she said. “This gives others a chance to understand why victims sometimes stay in traumatic situations and understand the complexity of this epidemic.”

And an epidemic it is. In Arizona, 42% of women and 33% of men experience some form of intimate partner violence, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Milne said the event is free and open to the community, adding that she hopes men also attend the event.

“Abuse happens to all genders, so for men to feel like they have a safe space to ask for help and communicate is super important,” she said. “It’s especially important if there’s children involved or if there’s suicidal ideations. Being able to provide that support all around is very vital.”

Details: Spotlight Saturday will take place Oct. 28 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Hope Women’s Center, 45978 W. McDavid Rd. The ‘In Her Shoes’ women’s experience will take place from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.; the teen experience from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Resources for domestic violence victims in Maricopa: