La Crosse organizations hold first annual “Dare to Self Care” for domestic violence awareness

LA CROSSE (WKBT) — Today, La Crosse mayor Mitch Reynolds declared October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Community members are raising awareness today for an issue that can often be silenced.

The REACH center, along with New Horizons and the YWCA, held their first annual “Dare to Self Care” event today, but the event was about more than self care.

“A lot of the time we just get caught up in the day-to-day. Our mental health is so incredibly important to us,” said Heidi Svee, the New Horizons program and personnel director.

The act of self care can be preventative, and it can also be healing.

“Let’s focus on survivors, while we are bringing attention and letting people understand how important it is to take care of yourself,” said Ann Kappauf, the executive director of New Horizons.

For victims and survivors of domestic abuse, self-care is only a part of the process.

“It is important to bring awareness to domestic violence so that we can work toward ending the stigma,” Svee said.

Awareness; Something Kappauf feels strongly about.

“I don’t even think I saw myself as ever having been a victim of abuse until I applied for my position at New Horizons,” Kappauf said.

She didn’t know how to talk about domestic abuse then.

“Thirty-some years ago, people didn’t know what domestic abuse was because they didn’t talk about it, and again, people didn’t talk about it,” Kappauf said.

Today, it’s okay to talk about it. But Kappauf says we need more action.

According to a new report– in one year– Wisconsins’ domestic related death toll rose from 68 deaths to 80 deaths. That is about an 18% increase.

“I think, too often the general public think domestic abuse is a private thing,” Kappauf said. “But we all know that abuse happens, and out of three women, one person is going to be affected by domestic abuse at some time in their life.”

Kapauff asks that people need to keep their eyes open for the warning signs.

“If I have to say something—it’s believe people. Believe what you see. Trust your gut,” Kappauf said.

And she asks you to step up.

If you or someone you know is in a domestic abuse situation, help is available. You can contact New Horizons’ hotline at 888-231-0066.

Today’s event also offered a space for female and LGBTQ+ vendors, as well as vendors of color.

Those are groups that local experts says are often disproportionately affected by domestic violence.