Domestic violence is a significant problem in Kentucky, said Angela Yannelli, the CEO of the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence, which has been renamed ZERO V, during a ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda on Wednesday designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“Thirty-four percent of women and 14% of men have experienced sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, and have reported at least one intimate partner impact,” Yannelli said. “This is a public health issue and it requires a public health issue response.”
Yannelli’s bottom line: “Domestic Violence Awareness Month is an opportunity to remind ourselves that the responsibility of creating a future that is free of violence, rests with each and every individual.”
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She talked about the agency’s far-reaching work in Kentucky.
“In addition to our policy training and prevention work, we support 15 regional domestic violence shelters that provide critical, life-saving services to all 120 counties.”
Gov. Andy Beshear, who signed a proclamation to designate October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Kentucky, had a message for victims, too.
“If you or someone you know needs assistance, I encourage you to reach out to the National Domestic Abuse Hotline, at 1-800-799-SAFE, or online at ZEROV.org. One Kentuckian facing domestic violence is too many. As Governor, but more importantly as a dad, I am committed to making our commonwealth safe for each and every one of our families.”
The governor also announced new federal funding. “Kentucky has just been awarded a $2.5 million U.S. Department of Justice grant to further assist law enforcement in bringing justice to victims of sexual assault.”
Beshear said the money will be used by the Kentucky State Police Sexual Assault Kit Investigating Team to hire additional personnel for testing sexual assault kits and improving sexual assault data collection, to better identify sexual predators.
State Sen. Whitney Westerfield, R-Fruit Hill, who has sponsored several bills on the issue, told the gathering, “There are tens of thousands of Kentuckians every year that ask for help, and still tens of thousands more that never do, but they need to.”
He noted while this is an event to celebrate the month, “our work isn’t done. It won’t be done when all of us in this room are long gone from our positions. But we stand here and keep fighting the fight as well as we can.”
After the remarks, candles were lit and the names of Kentucky domestic violence victims were read.