Daily Independent (Ashland, KY)

February 11, 2013

Plan calls for cultural change to end domestic violence

Tim Preston
The Independent

ASHLAND — If everyone makes it clear domestic violence will not be tolerated at any level, anytime or anywhere, the problem could someday become a thing of the past, according to the director at Safe Harbor.

Speaking to members of Ashland Rotary Monday, Safe Harbor Director Ann Perkins said the goal of ending domestic violence with the Green Dot Kentucky program is just as possible as historic efforts which sparked major attitude changes about things like smoking in public, or drinking and driving.

“Every person in this room has had some effect of domestic violence on their family or their friends” Perkins said, explaining Safe Harbor each year provides resources including emergency shelter as well as long-term housing for enough women and children to nearly fill the county’s new high school.  

 Perkins said a partnership with Girl Scouts was established early in the “Green Dot” project, which aims to promote “a very simplistic idea,” and cause change through individual and social means. A former smoker, Perkins said a few years ago she would have laughed at the idea of today’s laws prohibiting public smoking, as well as the economic changes resulting from elimination of the cash crop, and believes the same forces which brought those results can be applied to prevent domestic violence incidents.

“It was a cultural shift and that pretty much is what Green Dot is about,” she said, explaining the Green Dot plan calls for “zero tolerance” of domestic violence “in your home, in your neighborhood, in your church, at school and at work.”

Sharing the podium with Perkins during Monday’s Rotary meeting, Hope’s Place prevention director Mark Cole urged everyone in attendance to understand local rates for crimes including sexual acts against children are in line with national statistics.

“This is our community and we don’t let this happen in our community,” Cole said, urging individual action and attention. “Nobody wants to talk about things like sex abuse of a child but, as business leaders, we must take a stand.

“This is not New York or L.A. or the projects somewhere,” Cole continued. “This is happening here.”

With one of every four girls, and one in six boys reported as a victim of sexual abuse, Cole said the problem would cause immediate government action if it were instead an illness such as the flu.

Ashland Rotary president Vincenzo Fressola concluded the issue is well aligned with the club’s “peace through service” mission. For more information, contact Safe Harbor at (800) 926-2150 or (606) 329-9304; Hope’s Place at (866) 325-4737 or (606) 325-4737; or visit greendotky.com on the Internet.

TIM PRESTON can be reached at tpreston@dailyindependent.com.