More than two years ago, a woman named Nichole went on camera and, over the course of two hours, shared her experience of being a survivor of abuse, and how she had nearly died at the hands of her abuser.
"She wanted to make an impact. That's why she gave it to us," says Lorna St. John, a producer for Hamilton Studio in Spokane.
Since then, Spokane's Hamilton Studio has been interviewing domestic violence survivors, experts and advocates to create a documentary that will illuminate the area's domestic violence problem. And tonight, that documentary, called End the Violence, will air simultaneously on several local TV stations including KXLY, KREM, KAYU and SWX at 7 pm.
The half-hour End the Violence documentary is part of a local campaign made up of a coalition of dozens of local organizations who have come together to raise awareness of domestic violence locally. Spokane's rate of domestic violence is nearly double the state average of 7.6 incidents per 1,000 people, according to state data. One in four youth in the county have been abused by an adult, and one in five have witnessed abuse between adults more than once, according to the state Healthy Youth Survey.
"When we talk about social issues in our community, domestic violence needs to be a part of the conversation," says Annie Murphey, chair of the Regional Domestic Violence Coalition.
The documentary is bookended by Nichole's story and includes reenactments by local actors. St. John, who produced the video, says that they conducted about 20 interviews in the process of creating the documentary before editing it down to 30 minutes. Everyone involved with the project was a volunteer. Kim Pearman-Gillman, the End the Violence Steering Committee chair, says it is being released today to kickstart Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October. That, and the TV stations agreed that Monday night would be a great time to air the documentary.
The documentary creators say they hope the video brings attention to the issue because domestic violence plays a role in other problems facing the community, like childhood trauma and homelessness. That's part of the reason that Priority Spokane, a nonprofit aiming to tackle pressing issues, identified family trauma and violence as its next priority. St. John says what impacted her the most while making the documentary was the impact to the children.
Murphey says the goal of the campaign is to have everyone grow up in a safe and secure household and break the cycle of violence in the community.
"We've got to go upstream and try to figure out how we can be preventative around this issue," Murphey says.
Dana Morris Lee, the development director for the YWCA, adds that she hopes the documentary will encourage people to speak up about domestic violence when it happens.
"It's such a traumatic and such an emotional thing for people to not only experience, but to see and witness," she says. "I think that's a big message for the community: If you see something, say something. Don't wonder whether you should or not."
The Inlander will post a link to the documentary below after it airs on TV. To learn more about the End the Violence campaign, visit endtheviolencespokane.org.
If this is happening to you, or if you know someone who is a victim of domestic violence, you can call the Spokane Domestic Violence Hotline at 326-2255 or the Safe Passages Hotline in North Idaho at 208-664-9303. Or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24 hours a day online at thehotline.org or 1-800-799-7233.