Local center looks to start the conversation about domestic violence with new billboards, detox campaign

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – Over 90 billboards can now be seen throughout the Milwaukee metro area, all of which read: “99.9386%.”

“99.9386% of the time, when people contact us, they survive an abusive relationship,” says Carmen Pitre, president and chief executive officer at the Sojourner Center for Family Peace. proximity is important. It could save your life.”

According to Sojourner records, Milwaukee recorded a record 51 domestic violence deaths in 2020. That number is 40 in 2021, and so far in 2022, there have been 15 violent deaths. family reported by Sojourner.

“In my career, over 37 years, we used to be between 12 and 18 years old,” explains Pitre, adding that in recent years the number has been significantly higher. “A bad year will have 25 domestic violence homicides.”

Pitre was involved in the Monday morning of the operation led by Captain Gary Babrish of the Wauwatosa Police Department and Megan Paulson, a domestic violence survivor who came to Sojourner to assist five years ago.

“The violence wasn’t always constant, but it was regular,” Paulson said, describing an abusive relationship she was once in. “The last and last episode was terrifying; one that I really believe in, if we hadn’t had someone interfere with that episode, I would have died.”

Paulson hopes the campaign will encourage those experiencing domestic violence to speak out. She also wants to let them know they are not alone and are always ready to help.

“You can do it,” Paulson said. “No one deserves someone’s hand in violence. There’s no excuse. It’s not your fault. We need to make sure we’re encouraging, sending the message to victims the same. on one’s own.”

In addition to the billboards that will be in place through early September, Pitre is also urging businesses in the area to place window shades on their exits to signal to those experiencing domestic abuse that There is an outlet for abuse. relationship.

“We’re asking businesses, wherever there’s an exit sign, you can put one of these labels on. You can stick them on the inside of the bathroom stall, on the exit door,” Pitre said. dangerous”. “We want to start and continue this important conversation. We all need to talk about this.”

Pitre also has an important message for those experiencing domestic abuse.

“We’re not telling survivors you have to leave. Many survivors don’t want to leave. What we’re saying is reaching out can save your life,” Pitre said. “Departing isn’t always part of the equation. Sometimes survivors don’t contact us because they think we’re saying you have to leave. We want people to know when you’re going. outreach, what you’re doing is connecting with other people.”

For more information about the Sojourner Family Peace Center and other domestic violence resources in the area, visit here or call the 24-hour domestic violence hotline at 414-933-2722.

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