Red dresses serve stark reminder for domestic violence

A COC student walks by seven red dresses hanging near the flagpole on campus during last year's display. Katharine Lotze/Signal file photo
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The city of Santa Clarita is looking to remind residents about the dangers of domestic violence next week with a citywide display, which shows support for the local Domestic Violence Center, or DVC, and aims to raise awareness.

From November 27, 2017 to December 10, 2017, those venturing around Santa Clarita might come across the “Red Dress Project,” a traveling display of seven red dresses representing seven local women who lost their lives to domestic violence.

There were six dresses for six women killed in 2015 in Santa Clarita, and the seventh is for a Santa Clarita Valley DVC client who was killed by her abuser after she was unable to find transitional housing upon leaving the shelter.

“I want them to understand that these were people who lived near their homes, in apartments next to them,” said Linda Davies, executive director of the Santa Clarita Valley Domestic Violence Center, “and to remember that this is a community problem.”

Since the city initiated the program in 2015, the dresses have served as a powerful reminder. And for domestic violence survivors, the symbolism is much more meaningful, Davies said, noting the city’s hanging of the dresses was for many, the city’s first of several significant steps in taking action to stop the cycle of violence bred from domestic abuse.

“(The community) became an upstander instead of a bystander,” she added.

All of the dresses will be displayed outside, vulnerable to wind and weather. Outdoor elements will animate the dresses, representing the life that is missing. The color of the dresses are meant to symbolize love and spilled blood, an inescapable reminder of the intimacy of domestic abuse.

In addition to touring local high schools, the red dresses will be available for viewing at the following locations:

  • Santa Clarita Valley Court House –  Monday, November 27 and Tuesday, December 5 from 10:00 a.m. to noon, at 23747 Valencia Boulevard
  • KHTS Studio on Main Street –Tuesday, November 28, from noon to 2:00 p.m., at 24320 Main Street
  • College of the Canyons, Honor Grove – Wednesday, November 29 and Thursday, November 30, from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., at 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road
  • “In the Red” Art Gallery Reception – First Floor Gallery at City Hall – One dress will be on display at the reception on Wednesday, November 28 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.  City Hall is located at 23920 Valencia Boulevard.
  • Metrolink Station in Newhall – Friday, December 1 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., at 24300 Railroad Avenue
  • The Centre – Saturday, December 2 from 10:30 a.m. to noon, at 20880 Centre Pointe Parkway
  • SCV Senior Center – Monday, December 4 from 10:30 a.m. to noon, at 22900 Market Street
  • Princessa Metrolink Station – Monday, December 4 from 3:15 p.m. to 4:45 p.m., at 19201 Via Princessa
  • Savia Community Center – Wednesday, December 6 from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., at 23780 Newhall Avenue
  • The MAIN – Thursday, December 7 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., at 24266 Main Street
  • Veterans Historical Plaza – Friday, December 8 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m., at 24275 Walnut Street
  • Old Town Newhall Farmers Market –  Saturday, December 9 from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., at 24500 Main Street
  • Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church – Sunday, December 10, from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., at 23233 Lyons Avenue

For Mayumi Miyasato, a member of the city of Santa Clarita’s communications team and a governing board member for the Domestic Violence Center, hanging the dresses outside in the elements adds a realism to the display, which makes the message more impactful.

“I think by having the dresses out side where they can interact with the wind and the natural elements really brings the dress to life,” Miyasato said, “and I think that it captures the attention of residents who come across the exhibit.”

The city also formed a DIVERT team in response to the domestic violence murders, which is partnership between the DVC, the Sheriff’s Station and the Child and Family Center.

DIVERT, which stands for Domestic Intervention Violence Education Resource Team, is aimed adding resources that work directly with survivors, as well as community outreach, such as local classes taught in schools.

“The whole mission of DIVERT was to create educational outreach specific to the Santa Clarita community, specifically about domestic violence,” Miyasato said, “and the available resources we have for the community.”

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