AUBURN — A large cluster of purple was front and center at the Cayuga County Courthouse in Auburn around noon Thursday.
The annual Wear Purple Day rally — meant to raise awareness of domestic violence — took place at the steps of the courthouse, with many participants displaying purple through clothing in some fashion. Before the event began, participants were given purple balloons. Purple is the symbolic color of domestic violence awareness.
The event, hosted by Cayuga/Seneca Community Action Agency, featured speakers from Cayuga County government and law enforcement reaffirming their commitment to stopping domestic violence and supporting survivors.
Auburn City Councilor Jimmy Giannettino said domestic violence is an "epidemic," despite work at both local and nationwide levels on the issue.
County District Attorney Jon Budelmann said it is fortunate that so many officials, agencies and others in the county are dedicated to addressing domestic violence.
"Let the offenders know that our community is not going to allow it, we're going to (shine) a light on them, that we're going to bring it to the forefront, we're going to address it and hold them accountable," Budelmann said.
Other speakers included county Sheriff David Gould, county Legislature Chairman Keith Batman, and action agency deputy director Marie Montgomery.
At the end of the event, participants were asked to let their balloons loose to the sky.
According to the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office, local law enforcement investigated over 2,200 domestic violence cases last year.
More than 10 million men and women in the United States are physically abused by a partner every year, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Patty Weaver, domestic violence services coordinator for the action agency, said the event have taken place at noon is meant to allow more people to see and participate in it if they wish, as many people have their lunch breaks around noon.
These events send a signal to survivors that help and support are available and to offenders that their actions will not be tolerated, Weaver said.
She said she believes these events keep these issues in the cultural conversation and may help survivors come forward to get help.
"We want to make sure that we're putting it out there, that we're talking about it," Weaver said. "If you don't talk about it, people are afraid to talk about it."