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Centre County proclaims October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By CHRIS MORELLI

cmorelli@lockhaven.com

BELLEFONTE — Domestic violence is an epidemic in the United States.

At Tuesday’s Centre County commissioners’ meeting, Proclamation No. 29 of 2019 was issued. It proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Centre County.

Dawn McKee, Executive Director of Centre Safe, talked about the importance of outreach when it comes to preventing domestic violence.

“We really wanted to figure out a more creative way to reach the community members, people who actually might be experiencing violence in their home,” McKee said.

With that in mind, McKee and Centre Safe have made a concerted effort to get the word out.

“This year, we’re doing a lot of outreach to the faith community. What we realize is that often when people are having problems or in trouble or their relationship is not good, they go to their faith leader,” McKee said. “It’s also a way to do outreach into the more rural communities. We’ve mailed out over 70 packets to churches and faith communities.”

To honor those who lost their lives to domestic violence, there is an “Empty Place at the Table” exhibit, which is currently making its way through the county. This week, the powerful exhibit is at the Moshannon Valley YMCA. It will visit all of the county’s YMCA branches.

“It’s an exhibit that represents 17 people in our community who were murdered as a result of domestic violence. It leaves an empty place at the table. We have place settings with the story of the person who was murdered, how that happened,” McKee said.

The exhibit aims to educate and prevent domestic violence.

“It’s conversation starter. When I was setting it up on Sunday, a woman stopped me and started talking about situations that she knew in the community that had happened. It’s a good way to get the word out about services,” McKee said.

McKee thanked the commissioners for their support.

“It really means a lot,” she said.

Chair Michael Pipe talked about the significance of Marsy’s Law — Crime Victims Rights Amendment, which is on the ballot as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on Nov. 5.

Here’s how it will be worded on the ballot next month:

“Shall the Pennsylvania Constitution be amended to grant certain rights to crime victims, including to be treated with fairness, respect and dignity; considering their safety in bail proceedings; timely notice and opportunity to take part in public proceedings; reasonable protection from the accused; right to refuse discovery requests made by the accused; restitution and return of property; proceedings free from delay; and to be informed of these rights, so they can enforce them.”

The commissioners recently endorsed the amendment.

“We just had a conversation about Marsy’s Law,” Pipe said, “and we want folks to be aware of that (amendment).”

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