Several local events to commemorate October as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month are in the works, but in the meantime The Ark Domestic Violence Shelter is urging area residents to wear purple ribbons to draw attention to a problem that too often remains hidden.

“We encourage everyone to wear or display a purple ribbon to raise awareness about domestic violence,” Sherri B. Ornelas, executive director of The Ark in Brownwood, said. “In addition to the demonstration of support for victims, survivors and advocates, the display of purple ribbons throughout a community conveys a powerful message that there is no place for domestic violence in the homes, neighborhoods, workplaces or schools of its citizens.”

This year marks the 21st commemoration of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Ornelas said, and The Ark will be observing the awareness campaign with various activities in Brown, Coleman and Comanche counties throughout the month of October.

“Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an opportunity for communities to break the silence that surrounds issues of this violent crime,” Ornelas said. “Providing education and raising awareness are key components to cultivating support for survivors in our community. Domestic violence is a serious, widespread social problem.”

Ornelas said 74 percent of all Texans have either themselves, a family member or a friend experienced some form of domestic violence. Eighty percent of Texans believe it is never appropriate to remain in an abusive relationship.

“However, research has shown that women face a 75 percent increase in the chance of being killed during the time that they leave their abuser,” Ornelas said. “This demonstrates that Texas needs more information on domestic violence.”

Ornelas said reported incidents of domestic violence in 2006 by county showed 277 incidents in Brown County, 40 incidents in Coleman County and 82 incidents in Comanche County. In addition, eight deaths resulted from domestic violence in the three counties during the last 10 years.

Ornelas pointed to the need for services in the area. In fiscal year 2007-08, The Ark served 77 adult and 102 child residents for a total of 2,702 shelter days.

“For the same fiscal year, we served 151 adult and 101 child non-residents for a total of 682 days served,” Ornelas said.

That is an average of 15 residents and 21 non-residents per month for a total average of 36 clients served per month. The shelter also had 3,094 information calls and 1,657 crisis calls.

“We would like to remind our communities that they must speak out in a unified voice to combat domestic violence,” Ornelas said. “We would like to challenge all people in the community to support The Ark and partner organizations that provide many programs and support services to victims and families in crisis.

Ornelas urged anyone who needs assistance due to domestic violence to call The Ark Domestic Violence Shelter on its 24-hour crisis line at (325) 643-2699 or toll-free at (888) 313-2699.