New York state has one of the highest demands for domestic services in the country. Cattaraugus Community Action (CCA) located in Salamanca, New York, is a non-profit organization that provides opportunities to help vulnerable people achieve economic, physical and emotional security. Currently, CCA is focusing on victims of domestic violence, trying to get people from corrupt households to reach out for help through social media. Alfred University is teaming up with CCA to get students to write short messages to these victims for the ‘Dear Survivor’ Campaign. These messages will beposted on the CCA’s social media accounts, emphasizing that the organization is there to help anyone who might need it.
National data collected in 2019 indicates that, on a single day in New York, nearly 6,000 domestic violence survivors requested services. Since then, the requests for services across the state are becoming more complicated than ever, due to COVID-19 isolating victims in their unsafe homes. These victims can be children in the household, mothers, fathers, or anyone in an unstable, toxic relationship. By writing brief messages to these victims, they can further feel as though they matter—as though they can reach out for help without feeling uncomfortable, scared, or lost.
One quote from a message posted on CCA’s Instagram states, “you may feel like you’re trapped and that it’s too late, but it is not. Whenever you are ready, we are here for you. We believe you and you are not alone.”
By teaming up with college students, the organization can promote their cause to a broader community. Since there is no age limit on domestic violence, AU and CCA can do their part to possibly reach more people in need of help. Resident Assistants of on campus housing, club presidents, as well as some professors are sending out emails on this information, explaining how and why you should write these short messages, along with other community service opportunities containing domestic violence.
“Our hope is that someone who feels they may have nowhere to turn will read something that will encourage them to reach out. The purpose of writing these short messages is to ensure others that we are here for support—that we are here to listen and believe them. If someone suffering from domestic abuse scrolls through social media and happens to see what someone wrote, well, that could just change their life,” said CCA’s Prevention Education Specialist Kathlyn Harle Ramey.
If these messages continue to get posted on social media, then it is bound to help victims of domestic violence. These encouraging words can help someone feel brave enough to leave an unstable, toxic household and request services that can give them a better life, including increased self-esteem, lowered anxiety and stress levels, comfortability, and genuine stability. If you feel as though you have an uplifting and positive message that you would like to share to victims of domestic violence, please contact Victim Services volunteer Kailey Reyes at KFR1@alfred.edu for further information on how to be involved.
“My goal is to ensure victims of domestic abuse that it is okay to ask for help. CCA is a great organization that further promotes how to navigate healthy and unhealthy relationships, along with how to get out of them. The ‘Dear Survivor’ Campaign is a great way to reach out to these victims in a welcoming and comforting way,” said One Love volunteer Shannon Marlatt.
By Kailey Reyes