‘Save a Seat’ domestic violence project promotes awareness during pandemic

Updated: Oct. 5, 2020 at 8:34 PM EDT
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ALBANY, Ga. (WALB) - Ruth’s Cottage and The Patty Cake House kick off a new way to spread awareness about domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic and during Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which is October.

Stories from domestic violence survivors and victims are now displayed throughout Tifton, including the Tifton Mall, Downtown Tifton, Tift Regional Medical Center, and other places.

This new project is called ‘Save a Seat’ and was created to safely push forward domestic violence awareness as so many events and other projects were canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Kayla Myers and Rachel Elizondo are the two creators of the project. Myers is the Sexual Assault Program & Shelter Manager at Ruth’s Cottage & Patty Cake House. Elizondo is the Domestic Violence Program Committee Chair with Ruth’s Cottage & Patty Cake House.

Kayla Myers (Right) and Rachel Elizondo (Left)
Kayla Myers (Right) and Rachel Elizondo (Left)(source: WALB)

“The thought was what if we take one of the stories and ask people to save a seat for that victim,” Myers said.

The stories reflect people of all kinds of gender, race, and socioeconomic backgrounds, and domestic violence is still a big issue in Southwest Georgia.

“It is huge," Myers said. "The statistics are crazy and due to COVID, we have seen a drastic increase in it.”

This project is the brainchild of both Elizondo and Myers. Tragically, it was Elizondo’s own mother’s story that got her involved with Ruth’s Cottage and the Patty Cake House this year.

Rachel Elizondo  and her mother.
Rachel Elizondo and her mother.(source: Rachel Elizondo)

“As she’s running away, he (Rachel’s father) shot her and then killed himself. So that’s been about eight months. We’re coming up on the eight-month anniversary in just a couple of days,” she said.

From the tragedy that claimed her parents, she pulled through, and wanted to help others.

“Of course, I really want my mother back and I really wish that I didn’t have this painful story to tell, but I also feel like at the same time, that if this thing had to happen, and if this tragedy just couldn’t be avoided, then at least I can use this story and this terrible thing essentially that happened to me, that happened to my mother to try and help others.”

These stories will be up throughout the month of October.

Organizers said they hope to make it an annual event.

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