Utica, NY (WIBX) - October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Locally, YWCA Mohawk Valley is marking the occasion several ways. The group's executive director, Natalie Brown said, "October is a busy, exciting month for us. It is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the YWCA has planned a number of activities to help raise awareness about domestic violence in our community."

On October 4th, at SUNY IT's Kunsela Hall, the group--in partnership with Catholic Charities--is hosting a domestic violence panel with a number of local experts from the Oneida and Herkimer County District Attorney's Office, Oneida County Sheriff's Office, Utica Police Department, as well as, survivors of domestic violence. "And, we're going to talk about what is domestic violence and what you can do to recognize it," Brown said.

Events will be held throughout the month of October as part of the national campaign to reduce domestic violence. In June of this year, UPD officials released a report showing a consistent rise in domestic violence cases in Utica from 2008 - 2012, despite tougher penalties for the crime. The findings moved local law enforcement agencies to step up enforcement and prevention efforts.

Scheduled Events:

Thursday, October 4th - Town Hall Meeting: Ending the Violence: A Domestic Dialogue

The YWCA Mohawk Valley and Catholic Charities of Herkimer County are excited to present a town hall meeting to discuss domestic violence in our community. The meeting will be broadcast and moderated by WUTR TV and will feature panel experts discussing what domestic violence is, its impact in the Mohawk Valley and what the community can do about it. This event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, October 18th - Reclaiming Freedom Celebration

The 4th annual Reclaiming Freedom Celebration to raise awareness about domestic violence. Cocktail reception fundraiser with live entertainment and guest of honor, Donn T. King, retired Chief Clerk, Oneida County Family Court.

Utica: Wednesday, October 10th - Rome: Tuesday, October 23rd - Take Back the Night

These anti-violence marches and rallies are open to anyone interested in speaking out against violence. Participants can share how violence has impacted them during the speak-out portion of the evening. These events are free and open to the public.

Month of October - Purple Ribbon Campaign

Purple is the color that represents the cause of domestic violence awareness. The ribbons will be sold at local stores and businesses for $1 and then displayed for the entire month of October. All proceeds support our domestic violence programs.

The month long campaign comes with another tragic incident involving domestic violence. Alexandra Kogut, of New Hartford, is the latest victim. The 2011 graduate from New Hartford High School and freshman at SUNY Brockport, was allegedly murdered over the weekend by her boyfriend, 21-year-old Clayton Whittemore.

Law enforcement agencies, part of an extended campaign, are offering prevention strategies for victims, in an on-going effort to reduce the number of domestic violence cases in the Mohawk Valley. For more information about DV events taking place in our region, contact the YWCA at (315) 732-8760. To learn about DV programs and services offered through the Oneida County Sheriff's Office, contact (315) 765-2200.

Those in need of assistance are encouraged to call the YWCA Mohawk Valley Domestic Violence hotlines at:

Oneida County: (315) 797-7740

Herkimer County: (315) 866-4120

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