Domestic Violence Awareness Month receives attention


Griffin Fletcher

Barren River Area Safe Space, or BRASS, is a domestic violence shelter located in Bowling Green.

Since its creation in 1980, BRASS has served Warren County and its nine surrounding counties by providing shelter and assistance to victims of domestic abuse.

In a combined effort to support and honor these victims, BRASS teamed up with local organizations Hope Harbor, whose focus is on sexual assault prevention, and the FFOYA House, a non-profit community arts venue, last year to construct a joint project wherein survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault would be welcomed to attend art workshops held at an undisclosed location.

The organizations were able to secure an Art Meets Activism grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, which funded and made possible their vision.

With the goal to empower victims of abuse through the expression of art and writing and the development of creativity, workshops were held in both August and September, and several more will be offered in the spring.

FFOYA House co-founder and WKU professor of journalism Amanda Crawford is the lead artist on the project and led various joint art-writing workshops this fall.

Crawford views artistic expression as a beneficial way to find strength in oneself and to healthily recover from emotional and physical trauma.

“[Art] can be healing. It can also be empowering,” Crawford said. “Being creative and using your creativity can inspire you to do new things.”

As part of the BG Gallery Hop and in commemoration of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the partnered organizations will host an art, literature and music show on Friday, Oct. 13 at the FFOYA House community arts venue. It will include the art and writing of survivors and volunteers who participated in sessions of the fall workshops, along with the work of various local writers, musicians and artists.

Though this will be the second-annual Domestic Violence Awareness Month show hosted at the FFOYA House, Crawford notes that “survivors are intrinsically connected” to this year’s adaptation, given the new inclusion of survivors’ artwork.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. with the BG Gallery Hop art display, which will include examples of murals, self-portraits and literature. Around 6 p.m., featured readers will share a variety of poetry and prose, and interested visitors will be welcomed to read personal material by way of an open mic. A printed zine featuring the work displayed at the Gallery Hop will be distributed during this time. A concert featuring the bands Wet-Eyed Liars of Bowling Green and Chew of Atlanta will close out the night from 8-10 p.m.

As opposed to a cover charge, the event is free and welcome to all ages. Donations of non-perishable canned goods and personal care items are encouraged and will be collected at the front door and contributed to BRASS. The FFOYA House will accept donations until next week.

Executive Director of BRASS, Tori Henninger, is excited to recognize the work of survivors and local artists within the Bowling Green community.

According to Henninger, BRASS served 405 women in its shelter last year and serves 35-40 domestic abuse victims in-shelter on a monthly basis. In its outreach, BRASS currently aids more than 2,600 people by way of residential services.

“We provide comprehensive, wrap-around service to all victims,” Henninger said. “We work to provide services through their victimization to become survivors.”

BRASS offers three primary services, including emergency shelter for victims in need of immediate protection, nonresidential services such as assistance in court and financial advising to those who qualify and housing assistance, wherein BRASS helps survivors find renting opportunities and assists with utility deposits.

Though BRASS is located in Bowling Green, representatives travel to each of the other nine counties within BRASS’ jurisdiction at least every other week.

These representatives provide outreach service by means of educating victims on what makes a healthy relationship and how to parent effectively.

“Our mission, in summation, is to provide services to victims of domestic violence so that they can be survivors living a life free from abuse,” Henninger said.

Through its partnership with the FFOYA House and Hope Harbor, BRASS hopes to raise greater awareness among the public of Bowling Green.

“Domestic violence is a crime that does not discriminate, and the more people that we can reach out to with community awareness gives us a greater chance of reaching out to a victim of domestic violence,” Henninger said.

A survivor of domestic abuse herself, Crawford supports BRASS and its mission.

“One of the reasons I personally support BRASS is I’ve been where these women are,” Crawford said.

Because Crawford has experienced domestic abuse and realizes the importance of public understanding, she hopes Friday night’s show can inspire others and rightfully celebrate the spirit of countless survivors.

“People should take the opportunity of Domestic Violence Awareness Month to help out their local shelter,” Crawford said. “It’s important to remember that they’re there.”

Reporter Griffin Fletcher can be reached at 270-745-2655 and [email protected].