Mary-Margaret Chaffe’s best friend was murdered a decade ago because of a domestic violence dispute.
From that moment forward, Chaffe wanted to be an advocate for prevention of domestic violence.
“When it happened, I never thought about anything else but wanting to be an advocate for domestic violence,” Chaffe said. “I don’t even think I said the words ‘domestic violence’ before my friend was killed.”
Now working with Family Crisis Services of Northwest Mississippi, Inc., Chaffe seeks to make Oxford aware of the dangers of domestic violence. Mayor Robyn Tannehill and the Board of Aldermen declared October Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Oxford after Chaffe submitted a proclamation with current statistics on domestic violence in Mississippi.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women and one in seven men will experience physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. More than half of survivors of rape, violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner experienced some form of intimate partner violence for the first time before turning 25.
“Nationally, it is October for everyone to come together for the purpose of domestic violence awareness and prevention,” Chaffe said. “I went to Mayor Tannehill’s office, and it couldn’t have been an easier process to get something this important to be kind of stamped on Oxford.”
During the first week of October, the Oxford Police Department and the Lafayette County Sheriff’s Department began displaying purple ribbon magnets on their vehicles and wearing purple ribbon pins on their uniforms. Purple is the color used for Domestic Violence Awareness month, and is seen as a symbol of peace, courage, survival, and dedication to ending domestic violence.
Wearing his pin, OPD Sgt. Ryan Winters described the importance of law enforcement’s support of domestic violence awareness.
“It’s important to let people know that we’re here to help,” Winters said. “Of course, it’s our job to protect and serve, but a lot of times, it’s domestic violence victims who usually don’t feel protected.”
Family Crisis Services will distribute domestic violence awareness items like pens, clothing pins and bracelets. Chaffe also said the group will pass out pamphlets about Family Crisis Services and answer questions.
Ten signs reading “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” will be around town at locations such as at the OPD and Chamber of Commerce.
“I’m trying to find every corner around Oxford that I can, just so everybody can see one,” Chaffe said. “I hope that every time they see these signs, they know what it really represents and what it means for the community to get on board.”
Chaffe said domestic violence is an issue people don’t want to talk about, but she “wants to get the awareness out in Oxford.”
“(The events) are simple things that people will take notice of and, I hope, ask questions about,” she said. “If not, at least it’s going to be in their mind. You see a sign that says, ‘Love shouldn’t hurt.’ Your daughter sees a sign that says, ‘Love shouldn’t hurt.’”
Chaffe said she hopes the domestic violence awareness campaign will stick in peoples’ minds.
“When you see any of these displays of awareness, know it represents the ones who cannot speak for themselves anymore,” Chaffe said. “For the ones that have survived and spent every day putting their life back together and for the ones who suffer in silence.”