Call them cruisers with a cause.
Dozens of motorcyclists plan to zoom around Whidbey Island on Friday to draw attention and recognition to domestic violence.
“Stop the Cycle” Motorcycle Awareness Ride, sponsored by Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, is part of a month-long series of events at the base and around local communities centering around domestic violence, how to spot it and how to prevent it.
Island County’s support agency, Citizens Against Domestic and Sexual Abuse, or CADA, is also planning activities.
The second annual ride starts at the parking lot of Saratoga Gate where the public can join in. The route includes stops at Freeland Park and Oak Harbor’s City Beach. Last year’s ride rode from the base to Anacortes and back to Whidbey.
“The purpose of the ride is to have sailors and those from the community who would like to join us participate to show we are together in raising awareness about domestic violence,” said Mike Welding, public affairs specialist.
Currently, the base has many reminders and displays drawing attention to the fact that it’s not immune from the shattering effects of domestic violence. Life-size silhouettes include statistics and stories from survivors.
“People in the military are just that, they’re people,” said Lori Campbell, a military family advocate. “So all the things that plague the community plague the base. We have the same problems.”
Campbell is a victim advocate for NAS Whidbey Island’s Family Advocacy Program. She organizes and coordinates the ride along with Harold Story and Leonard Brown, a training manager and member of the base Motorcycle Safety Group.
Whidbey Island is also no different when it comes to the incidence rates of domestic abuse.
“People think that because it’s beautiful and rural that domestic violence must not be as big of a problem,” says Cynde Robinson, executive director of CADA. “But that’s not true.
“Our statistics on Whidbey are no different than the nation and Washington state.”
On average, CADA sees 250 new clients every year, Robinson said.
Having a loud and very public event such as dozens of motorcycles revving around Whidbey gets the message out that “our domestic violence statistics are the same as all of Washington state.”
Military representatives, Island County, CADA, the sheriff’s office and other organizations regularly meet as a task force to discuss domestic violence situations and issues.
CADA has its own activities planned as well during October, deemed National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Messages on paper coffee sleeves will soon appear as will posters and emergency numbers in restrooms and other locations. And expect to see a lot of the color purple.
CADA runs a round-the-clock emergency hotline, provides access to emergency shelter for women and children and provides free, confidential assistance for survivors of domestic violence, dating violence, rape, child sexual abuse and sexual harassment.
Crisis intervention, advocacy-based counseling, legal advocacy, medical advocacy, support groups and parenting classes are also part of CADA, which was founded in 1979. It’s accredited by the Washington State Office of Crime Victims Advocacy as a Community Sexual Assault Program
Robinson said it’s important the public knows about CADA’s services.
“When people are in an unsafe domestic situation, they tend to turn first to friends and family,” she said. “So it’s important to know CADA exists.”
Initially believing a person when they reveal they’re being domestically abused is vital, Robinson said.
“To support them and believe them and not give up on them” is the appropriate response if someone reveals they’re being abused, Robinson stressed.
“Look for the signs, also. Sometimes, they become more isolated, they don’t do the activities they used to do or they seem that they’re very stressed,” she said.
“Domestic violence is not all black and blue and broken bones as it’s portrayed in Hollywood,” Robinson pointed out. “It could be emotional abuse. So it’s important to express your concern.”
CADA uses many pro-active approaches. It gives presentations in elementary school, middle school and high school classes that include discussions on appropriate interactions between people and healthy family dynamics.
“It’s about developing the skills for healthy relationships,” Robinson said. “So we talk about bullying in elementary school, discuss cyber-bullying in middle school and dating relationships in high school.”
The goal, says Robinson: “We want to prevent domestic violence rather than treat it.”
• “Stop the Cycle” Motorcycle Awareness Ride: 12:30 to 3 p.m., Friday, Oct. 6. It begins at NAS Whidbey Island’s Saratoga Parking Lot on the corner of Clover Valley Road and N. Saratoga Street. All motorcycle riders are welcome.