SCCFF begins annual candle campaign


February 8, 2024

Shannon Brown

Purple candles will be placed throughout the county for the month of February.

The Sanders County Coalition for Families is doing their annual February Candle in the Window Campaign in Sanders County. The campaign is conducted by placing a candle in businesses throughout Sanders County for domestic violence awareness. Each candle is in honor of a victim who has lost their life.

Kayla Torres, the community outreach and volunteer coordinator said, "There have been 248 fatalities in Montana between 2,000 and 2023." Five have been from Sanders County and eight have been from Libby in Lincoln County, according to the Montana Domestic Violence Fatality Review Commission.

In 2020 incidents skyrocketed during COVID, Torres said. "Our phones were silent. Isolation was the biggest means of not being able to reach out, and transportation not being available for those victims."

"We are here to provide support and resources and shelter. If someone needs to go out of state to be safe, we can help them. We have grants for legal assistance," Torres said. In emergencies Torres said they brainstorm ideas and find whatever resources are needed to get them to safety. If they leave the state we link them up with the coalitions from that state. "We don't just ship them away for someone else to deal with." The states are interconnected.

Torres said, "We don't make decisions for clients. We let them make their own choices." On average it takes an abused victim seven incidents before they decide to leave that situation, Torres said. There are advocates to help with legal matters and documents for the transitional housing program. "There is no judgment. The program has grants to assist in rental payments."

The coalition offers surviving victims tools to avoid or survive future abuse. "We really work on what is best for everybody. There is zoom counseling available from a local counselor. Those who wish can call our office to set that up." They can establish themselves as a client, Torres said.

Torres said she will be placing candles in the following locations: The Valley Bank in Hot Springs, Wild Roots in Plains, Plains City Hall, Clark Fork Valley Hospital, LimberLost Brewing in Thompson Falls, Thompson Falls Valley Bank, Up Town Essentials Health Food, Edward Jones and Sanders County Ledger, Thompson Falls.

Torres said October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. "We put ribbons and clickets on fences. The Noxon High School, Sheriff's Office, Plains High School and Mountain West Dental put up purple ribbons and clickets on fences."

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness month, Torres said. She has been meeting with teenage girls during their lunch breaks. "I give them tools to help with self esteem, communication, boundaries in healthy relationships, and how to deal with toxic relationships and for safe solutions." Torres said her plan is to help teens be aware of potential violence and abuse. She meets with girls two days a week in Thompson Falls and Noxon High Schools. "As of yet I have not been able to establish a meeting plan with the Plains High School."

Anyone needing assistance or wanting to establish counseling through zoom can contact Kayla Torres at the (406) 827-3218


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