EmPOWER Center Begins Annual Collection Drive for Domestic Violence Survivors

The costumes donated to the EmPOWER Center will benefit the House of Ruth, which aids survivors of domestic violence in a variety of ways. (Photo courtesy of The EmPOWER Center)

This article discusses domestic violence.

The reality of domestic violence is a hushed epidemic. In a single day, domestic violence hotlines nationwide receive over 20,000 phone calls on average, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Although this indicates survivors have some voice, approximately 50 percent of such incidents aren't reported to police, the DC Coalition Against Domestic Violence said. 

To counteract this silence and recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October, the Claremont Colleges' EmPOWER Center has initiated its second annual 7C Halloween Collection Drive to support those impacted by domestic violence.

Students, faculty, and staff may drop off old Halloween costumes and candy at the donation box located in the front porch of the EmPOWER Center at 1030 Dartmouth Ave. from Oct. 16 to Oct. 25 to provide survivors with free costumes and candy to celebrate Halloween.

All proceeds will go toward individuals and families at the House of Ruth, a local shelter home that provides services to domestic violence residents of eastern Los Angeles and western San Bernardino, as well as other non-residential survivors.

EmPOWER Center Director Rima Shah said the House of Ruth organizes the Halloween event for survivors through their shelter home and non-residential services.

“We hope to provide adults, teens, and children who have experienced domestic violence and who may not have had the opportunity to celebrate Halloween this year a night to remember that is full of laughter, joy, and plenty of treats,” Shah wrote in an email to TSL.

In addition to advocating for survivors, Shah said the initiative gives back to the House of Ruth, which “often provides our students, staff, and faculty with excellent and much-needed services but never charges for them.”

The EmPOWER Center hopes the Halloween theme will encourage more students to get involved.

“We know there are always many competing causes to donate to, so we wanted to do something that would catch people’s attention and something that wouldn’t cost anything to donate to,” Shah wrote. “We figured that many people have old costumes that they no longer use, so all they would have to do is drop them off at our office."

Shah added that Domestic Violence Awareness Month is "a great opportunity to raise awareness about domestic violence and resources available, support and stand in solidarity with survivors and their supporters, and help break the silence that often surrounds domestic violence," she said.

The EmPOWER Center collaborates closely with the House of Ruth to host Healthy Relationships Lunchtime Talks at the Center every other Tuesday and often refers students, staff, and faculty survivors to the House of Ruth’s emergency shelter, hotline, legal advocacy, and temporary restraining order assistance services.

Throughout the year, the EmPOWER Center also provides confidential counseling and advocacy support to 7C survivors of domestic violence. They offer numerous collaborative events to engage students, staff, and faculty in conversations about healthy relationships and dating/domestic violence, such as through new student orientation sessions, the Healthy Masculinity Initiative, and Teal Dot bystander engagement training.

The Teal Dot of the Claremont Colleges works closely with the EmPOWER Center staff and holds bi-weekly meetings with Shah. Ellie Ash-Balá, faculty advisor for Teal Dot of the Claremont Colleges and Pomona College’s associate dean of campus life, expressed her “wholehearted” support for the EmPOWER Center and their Collection Drive initiative.

The "collection drive is an amazing and special way that our community can support survivors of domestic violence, especially kids who may be displaced due to violence and not have access to costumes for Halloween,” Ash-Balá wrote in an email to TSL.