Staff photo/Tate Thomson Each red silhouette tells the story of a Washingtonian who passed away from domestic violence in 2016.

SAFE San Juans honors domestic violence victims in vigil

No one is excluded from the trauma of domestic violence from infants and children to the elderly, women and men, all are impacted. October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, is an opportunity to shine a light on the problem.

“It is a voice from the grave, literally,” said Trusanda Lyons, SAFE San Juans advocate, of the upcoming Silent Vigil event. SAFE San Juans, which stands for Social change, Advocacy, Transformation, and Education, is a nonprofit whose mission is “the prevention and elimination of domestic violence and sexual assault through victim services, education, community awareness and cultural and social change.”

At noon on Oct. 25, SAFE San Juans will hold a silent vigil at the San Juan County Courthouse lawn in Friday Harbor, honoring Washingtonians who died from domestic violence in 2016. There are approximately 50 profiles that have been posted in the lawn across the street from the courthouse. Each red silhouette tells the story of those who passed away.

The vigil has been going on for about seven years on San Juan Island, and now is also scheduled on Orcas, at noon, on Oct. 26. It was held on Lopez on Oct. 3. The event usually lasts about half an hour and flowers are placed on each figure.

One of those profiles, this year, represents someone from this county; a yellow ribbon has been added to her silhouette as a special tribute.

“We know it happens here, there is something in the sheriff’s log almost every week,” Lyons said.

Statistically, Washington and San Juan County probably are considered to have an average amount of domestic violence incidents, according to Isaac Berg, SAFE San Juan Prevention Advocate, and Stand Up Men Coordinator.

“It’s important to bring domestic violence to the forefront. People often try to cover it up,” Berg said. With prevention advocates, Stand Up Men — a group of men dedicated to educating others about the issue – 5K runs, and other awareness activities, SAFE San Juans strives to bring that awareness to the community to end the violence.

“Every single one of the silhouettes represents a community loss,” said Kim Bryan, executive director of SAFE San Juans.

Her message to survivors, if they need help, is this: “20-30 years later, it doesn’t matter, we are still there for you,” she said.

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