APPLETON (NBC 26) — October is Domestic Violence Awareness month and this year Harbor House is hosting its fourth annual Purple Porch Project. Harbor House provides services to those living with domestic violence. Each October, the non-profit asks local businesses and homeowners to put up purple lights in porches and windows to raise awareness about domestic violence.
It's an issue in the community that's often invisible.
“In our community domestic violence affects 1 in 7 people so it’s very likely that you know someone in that relationship,” said Cassie McDonald, the Harbor House senior manager of community relations.
McDonald says this year the need to raise awareness has never been greater as the demand for the services at Harbor House has spiked since the start of the pandemic.
“We served about a thousand people in 2020 because of COVID. This year we’re over two thousand and there’s 3 months left in the year," McDonald said. "Domestic violence is on the rise.”
Harbor House says there are hundreds of homeowners, businesses, and organizations participating in the Purple Porch Project this year.
The Appleton Police Department has been a participant since the project started in 2018.
“As law enforcement we deal with domestic violence every day if not multiple times a day," said public information officer Meghan Cash. "In the city of Appleton alone, aggravated assault is one of our largest violent crimes and typically most of those are related to domestic violence.”
Participants can switch out their standard porch lights with purple bulbs or add purple outdoor lights such as floodlights or string lights. The project is aimed at spreading awareness of the programs and services available locally for individuals experiencing domestic violence.
“It’s been a really great response to see how many people really do care about domestic violence and I hope those in the community who are in that kind of relationship understand they have that support,” McDonald said.
“We need the community’s support and we need those survivors of domestic violence to know the community supports them," Cash said. "It really takes the community to wrap our arms around them and show them that they’re going to be okay.”
Participants can also donate to Harbor House. Harbor House is aiming to raise $50,000 this month to support its various programs. Thanks to an anonymous donor, the first $15,000 will be matched for a total of $30,000. You can donate at the Harbor House website.