Peaceful Paths promotes domestic violence awareness

Purple ribbon on grey wood
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. (Shutterstock)

Peaceful Paths Domestic Abuse Network will mark the start of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and host its annual fundraising event on Thursday. 

Since 1974,  Peaceful Paths  has committed to the ongoing partnerships and collaborations that create a Coordinated Community Response to domestic violence in Alachua, Bradford and Union Counties. 

“Our mission is to save lives and create change,” executive director Theresa Beachy said in a phone interview. “We work on both the individual level to create safety, and the community and social level to create change around the intersectionality of all the issues affecting survivors and their children.” 

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Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) continues to be a significant criminal and social concern in the tri-county region. Over the last year, Peaceful Paths reported more than 60,000 services it provided to survivors and their children through residential and outreach programs. 

“We began our shelter services in 1978 and have continuously provided a 24-hour helpline, 365-day emergency shelter, and outreach services,” Beachy said. “Since that time, we have a staff of 46 that serve adult and child survivors of domestic violence, both men and women, who are seeking three basics: safety, support, and assistance with creating a path to self-sufficiency.” 

In the residential program, 338 individuals received emergency and supportive housing services on campus, while 780 adults and children received over 30,000 individual services that created safety and networks of support. 

The program works closely with allies from law enforcement, healthcare corporations, and the faith community. 

These outreach programs span the entire continuum of what a survivor may need. 

“Survivors can walk into our outreach offices, and what they’re going to encounter is an initial intake where we do a basic needs assessment and safety plan,” Beachy said. 

Peaceful Paths offer a food pantry, clothing closet, transportation needs, and childcare support. Through its critical services, the program can help with legal referrals and contracted services like trauma therapy within the healthcare community. 

“One of the things we know about domestic violence is the reason it thrives as an ongoing social injustice and criminal activity in our society is that people don’t talk about it,” Beachy said. “So, by partnering with the larger coordinated community, we’re telling survivors that there’s a network of people who not only believe you but are here to support you, and that’s a really incredible message of empowerment.” 

People can call the center 24 hours a day at 352-377-8255 or text 352-792-0948 for any questions about their relationship or experiences. All calls and texts are confidential.   

The Peaceful Paths will host its 21st Anniversary Guest Chef Cocktail Party from 5:30-9 p.m. on Oct. 6 at Oak Lane Weddings and Events in Alachua. 

“This is one of the most fun events that I think people can attend in our community,” Beachy said. “We don’t use commercial or restaurant vendors. People who believe in our mission share their favorite home recipes in a spectacular venue.” 

The night will feature a survivor who will speak and share a personal story, Christine Simpson will serve as the featured chef, and Eric Godet from the Greater Gainesville Chamber of Commerce will emcee the event. 

For more information and tickets, visit the  Guest Chef Gainesville  website. 

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