Purple lights are shining around town to recognize National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, including the Coon Rapids Police Department and City Hall. The city buildings will shine purple for all of October to raise awareness of domestic violence in our community.
Violence Free Minnesota reports that in 2019, at least 16 women were killed by an intimate partner in Minnesota, and at least five family members, friends or bystanders were also killed in domestic violence related situations. Nationwide, roughly 20 people are physically abused every minute by an intimate partner.
In Anoka County, the non-profit Alexandra House helps survivors and their families find a road to recovery. Monica Elicerio is one of those survivors.
"I was in a pretty desperate set of circumstances of really having lost a lot of hope," said Elicerio. "I mean, everything when you become victimized is put on hold, your whole life -- your life as a mom, your life as an employee, your life as a friend -- all of these things become affected."
Elicerio was drugged, sexually assaulted and left in the street after a date with someone she met online. After the assault, Elicerio struggled to put herself back together when she accepted help from Alexandra House.
"Had the services not been available, I don't know that I could have been able to experienced this degree of health and happiness."
Alexandra House provides 24-hour services, shelter and care to victims and families across the state. Service span a wide range from art therapy and journaling, to housing help and education. With crucial annual fundraisers like Hope Fest cancelled during the pandemic, it is more important than ever for Alexandra House to raise both awareness and dollars for the services they provide. Alexandra House is asking the community to display purple lights at their homes and businesses throughout October, wear awareness buttons, put up Alexandra House yard signs and dress in purple on Thursday, October 22.
"This issue isn't going to be solved alone," said Tina Bronson, communications marketing director at Alexandra House. "When you look at survivors of domestic and sexual violence, it doesn't happen to them singularly. It impacts their families. It impacts their employers. It impacts the health of the community. It's a public safety and a public health issue.... and the only way we solve it, is if we solve it together."
Piece by piece Alexandra House has helped Elicerio rebuild. She now sits on the board of Alexandra House to help other survivors achieve the healing she has experienced.
"It was a springboard for opening up doors and avenues of what healthy looks like for me."
Learn more about the services at Alexandra House, make a donation, and purchase purple light bulbs, buttons and yard signs at alexandrahouse.org.