Part of D.A.R.T.’s mission is to provide leadership in educating the public regarding the far-reaching consequence of domestic and dating violence.
D.A.R.T. advocates give more than a hundred talks a year about domestic and dating violence in the seven parishes we serve, including two universities. We participate in health fairs and expos where we can talk to the community and hand out material. A column appears once a week in the Ruston Daily Leader, with topics that range from domestic violence topics to D.A.R.T.’s activities in the community. We access radio, TV, and social media to relay information and give calls to action. In addition to these and other regular outreach activities, D.A.R.T. also has annual awareness events each year.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. As part of an awareness effort, each parish served by D.A.R.T. publicly displays red silhouettes that represent the people in our area who have been murdered by intimate partners.
The first year we did the displays, there were four women and three children’s silhouettes. In 2018, there were 41.
The Silent Witness display is a national project (http://www.silentwitness.net). The exhibit is a visual representation consisting of life-sized, red silhouettes of the women, men and children murdered in acts of domestic violence during a specific period of time within each state, county or city. (D.A.R.T.’s group represents victims in seven parishes since approximately 1994.) It is a yearly reminder that the crime of domestic violence continues in our community.
Collaboration is the Key
“Collaboration is the Key” is not only a good adage for any community-wide effort, it is also the title of one of D.A.R.T.’s oldest annual community education and awareness events. Now in its 17th year, “Collaboration is the Key” was first designed for law enforcement professionals. However, participants now include a wide variety of professionals from across the state who regularly encounter domestic violence in their work. Members of the clergy, teachers, counselors, medical professionals, and social workers join law enforcement personnel at this one-day training event, traditionally held at the Ruston Civic Center. National experts are brought in to discuss relevant topics such as human trafficking, internet crimes against children and adults, cyber-stalking, and domestic violence laws.
One of the most stirring events of the year is held during October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Each of the parishes served by D.A.R.T. puts up an outdoor Silent Witness display, a series of red life-sized silhouettes, each representing an actual person, someone from one of the seven parishes served by D.A.R.T., whose life was ripped from their families and communities by domestic violence. During the month, each parish also holds a Candlelight Vigil. At this ceremony, each name is read aloud, and there is a moment of silence to remember these men, women and children who were murdered by a loved one.
The first year D.A.R.T. held a candlelight vigil, seven names were called – four women and three children. In 2017, forty candles were lit as the names of thirty-three women, three men, and four children were called.
D.A.R.T. continues to hold these vigils each year, as a reminder to everyone that domestic violence does not just damage lives – it takes them.
Beating Hearts : Stories of Domestic Violence
Two of D.A.R.T.’s earliest supporters, Kate Sartor Hilburn and Terrie Queen Autrey, an artist and a writer, have collaborated to create an art exhibit inspired by true stories of domestic violence. Beating Hearts: Stories of Domestic Violence retells, in visual and verbal form, the stories of people they have met in their work in domestic violence prevention. The exhibit consists of large and small photo constructions with accompanying text. The stories are framed in windows and doors, representing the framework of home. The show has been displayed throughout the country, and a poster series based upon the work is available for sale or loan. For information on the exhibit or the posters, visit beatinghearts.net or call 318-513-9373.