PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - Those working to stop domestic violence are using purple ribbons to symbolize the need for a strong partnership between the community and law enforcement.
It was a little more than a month ago that Sonja Raine was fatally gunned down by her husband while at her work place in Pascagoula. On Thursday, police officers in that city joined with the Gulf Coast Women's Center for Nonviolence to renew their commitment to trying to prevent these kinds of tragedies.
As Pascagoula police ride around town with purple ribbons on their squad cars and motorcycles, they want people to think about how domestic violence hurts our community. Officers said the vast amount of their calls are domestic violence related. So when they respond, officers make a point to tell victims about resources available to help get them out of their bad situations.
"It helps get them out of the environment they're in and realize there is someone that's willing to help them besides just the police being there for five or 10 minutes," said Lt. Doug Adams. "Because once we leave, if there is no arrest made, then things just escalate right back up again."
The Gulf Coast Women's Center for Nonviolence has worked to build strong ties with local law enforcement. Together they want to help families break destructive cycles.
"Trying to wrap your mind around the dynamics of domestic violence is difficult for someone who has never experienced that," said Stacey Myers, clinical services director. "It's a very integrated experience for anyone who has ever been in a violent relationship. Especially if you grew up in a violent home and that's what you know in your lifetime is that's how people interact."
Advocates said they have noticed when police offer information and support to victims, those victims are more likely to stand up to their abusers.
"When they make the response to the scene and they get them connected to our program, there's a higher number of individual victims who show up for court and who cooperate with the police departments once they have that better understanding of options to get out," Myers said.
While October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, officers will be spreading their message all year round. The Gulf Coast Women's Center for Nonviolence tied purple ribbons to Biloxi Police Department vehicles as well.