MILWAUKEE — The Sojourner Family Peace Center has decades of experience helping people affected by relationship abuse, but hope a new campaign will save lives.
Starting Monday, if you're driving around Milwaukee, you will see billboards advocating for those in domestic violence situations.
It's billboards like this on Teutonia and Nash that Sojourner hopes will catch people's attention to remind you that there is help out there, but to also start a very important conversation.
The billboards and signs posted at bus shelters say 99.93% of those who come to Sojourner survive an abusive relationship.
"This place was life-saving and the way they respond to victims is life-saving," domestic violence survivor Megan Paulson said.
As a state prosecutor handling domestic violence cases, Paulson said her marriage started out fine until her life was in jeopardy.
"It was the time I found myself almost dying and I knew if I didn't leave, the chances of me dying was very great," Paulson said.
So, in 2018 she reached out to Sojourner Family Peace Center for help.
"Every time I'd come through the doors again and again, I started to feel hopeful," she said. "I started to feel more confident. I started to feel like there was a way out."
President of Sojourner Carmen Pitre said reminding people to reach out is vital more than ever with domestic abuse on the rise.
"The campaign really is designed to prompt people to reach out for help," Pitre stated.
According to Sojourner, 2020 was a record year with 51 domestic related homicides in Milwaukee, which was up from 40 in 2021. So far this year, 15 people lost their lives due to domestic violence in the city.
Pitre's hope is to not lose any more lives and she's calling on the community to get the messaging out there as well.
"We'd like businesses and partners to get the signs (and) put them on exit doors," Pitre stated.
"A campaign like this is in everybody's face, because we can't hide it anymore," Paulson added.
Ultimately with this campaign, Pitre wants people to know there is help out there.
You can contact Sojourner or the seven other community based services in Milwaukee.
You can visit Sojourner Family Peace Center at 6th and Walnut, or call its 24-hour hotline at (414) 933-2722.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 1-800-799-7233.
For more information on Sojourner Family Peace Center, click here.