Social media campaign takes a stand against domestic violence - | News, Weather & Sports in Billings, Montana

Social media campaign takes a stand against domestic violence

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and YWCA Billings wants the community to recognize the reality of domestic violence next door. 

"It's there," YWCA CEO Merry Lee Olson said. "A lot of times you don't see it, but we can help people understand what the signs are and help them know how to help." 

To raise awareness, YWCA launched its "Take A Stand" campaign with daily social media posts showing how YWCA and others are taking a stand to end violence against women. 

"1 in 3 women in our region is a victim to domestic violence, stalking, or harassment," Olson said. "And this is higher than the national average of 1 in 4."

Olson said YWCA Billings works with victims of domestic violence throughout the year. Right now, the YWCA is providing safe shelter to 14 women and 5 children, many of whom were exposed to domestic violence. 

"As a team, we are able to turn lives around, and help people break the cycle," Olson said. 

Through the social media campaign, Olson said survivors and others who have been exposed to domestic violence are able to share their stories and empower themselves as a voice for the cause. 

The hashtag "#WhyIStayed" is used to answer one common question asked of domestic violence victims. 

YWCA Billings hopes the daily posts and accounts illustrate the complexities of domestic violence and how difficult it is to break the cycle. Victims of domestic violence often face fear of harm, losing their families, mental health issues, legal concerns, financial hardship, and more. 

Besides raising awareness, the campaign raises support. 

YWCA also visits local businesses and workplaces to provide further education and purple ribbons toward raising domestic violence awareness. The center then posts pictures of these local groups and people as part of their continued campaign. 

"They need to see community leaders, businesses and their friends and neighbors standing up and speaking out about violence against women," YWCA Director of Programs Erin Lambert said. "So they lose their concerns about stigma and isolation."

For more, see the YWCA Billings Facebook page or follow the hashtags #DVAM2016#WhyIStayed, and #TakeAStand on social media. 

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