By Marisa Murray, Staff Writer
Community members, including the University of Maine at Farmington’s (UMF) Sexual Wellness Club walked down Main Street for Domestic Violence Awareness on Monday, October 7th.
The walk was part of a event for Domestic Violence Awareness Month and concluded at the newly refurbished North Church.
*gWe are here to honor those we’ve lost to domestic violence, support those still facing abuse, and celebrate those survivors,” said Stacy Bourassa, an educator from Safe Voices.
The evening started with a welcome and guest speakers. Some of the guest speakers included local Sheriff Scott Nichols and Doctor Constance Adler. While Adler gave information of the changes in the medical field toward domestic violence, Nichols gave statistics of domestic violence in our area. There have been “44 cases in Franklin County in the last ten months,” said Nichols.
One of the statistics posted at the North Church stated that from January 2011 to August 2013 there have been 29 deaths from domestic violence in Maine ranging between men, women, and children. There is a domestic assault every hour and forty- two minutes, which equates to over 5000 a year.
There was a moment of silence for the victims of domestic violence and then a candlelit procession down Main Street. The weather was a force to be reckoned with and the candles didn’t stay lit long because of the wind. Once at the church, there were refreshments and open sharing time.
*gThis is part of how we affect change,” said Bourassa. “It means a lot to stand together as a community.”
Members of the Sexual Wellness Club attended this event. The members in attendance included Chelsea Lear-Ward, Kayla Dore, Erin McGuign, Nate Welch, and Sara Doyon.
McGuign, creator of the Sexual Wellness Club, compared the club to the Domestic Violence Awareness walk. “Sexual awareness is a really broad topic,” said McGuign. “There is just so much (out there), like we are here at the Domestic Violence Awareness walk.
Lear-Ward, also shared her view. “With Sexual Wellness club, it’s really important to get involved with activities like this because it really shows that this is a club that you can make a difference with,” said Lear-Ward. “One person can make a difference and this is our way of attempting to make that difference.”
Another sheet of statistics at the North Church stated that 1 in 4 women in the US will experience domestic violence in their lifetime and 1 in 7 for males. 1 in 3 high school students will have been in an abusive relationship by the time they graduate. McGuign said how she has had friends and family in emotional and physically abusive relationships.
*gWith sexual assault and domestic violence, people don’t realize it is happening to them,” said McGuign.
Lear-Ward said much of the same. “Self-worth is one of the most important things out there for people to learn.
The Sexual Wellness Club will be hosting a bake sale for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. All the proceeds will be sent to Safe Voices.
Bourassa said the best thing you can do is find out more information. “Arm yourself with knowledge.”
To more information about Safe Voices and domestic violence can be found at safevoices.org.