FARMINGTON – Braving wet weather, a small crowd was at the gazebo in Meetinghouse Park Wednesday night, in a small ceremony to mark the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“We are here to serve as a memorial for those who have lost their lives to domestic violence and to raise awareness for those who still suffer from it,” said Lauren LaRoche, Abused Women’s Advocacy Project community educator, “but my hope is that everyone can leave with a little bit of hope tonight.”
AWAP hung purple lights around the gazebo, which will remain for the month of October. The purple lights represent the bruises women have received through domestic violence. It matches the color of the purple ribbons which have marked domestic violence prevention and educational events for more than 20 years.
“It represents courage, survival, honor and dedication,” AWAP Outreach Advocate Jennie Hinkley said.
Franklin County Sheriff Dennis Pike, Wilton Police Chief Dennis Brown and Detective David St. Laurent were all in attendance. St. Laurent noted that police departments were constantly improving their ability to solve domestic violence cases.
“We’ve come a long way,” St. Laurent said, “but it’s still a big problem. It’s rewarding to know that we can save women, children, men from this, but we still have a long way to go.”
Brown, whose career began in the 1990s, said that victims would be found badly beaten, but that “you couldn’t make an arrest. You couldn’t do it.”
Since then, Brown said, police have better options and more training to deal with domestic violence cases. He said that the emotional damage one suffers in an attack was oftentimes devastating.
“This is someone you love, someone you care about, someone you thought you’d be with forever,” Brown said. “It’s a life-long injury.”
Brown asked those present to be a positive force in people’s lives, supporting them in their decisions.
“Domestic Violence Awareness Month lasts 31 days,” LaRoche said. “Domestic abuse happens every day.”
AWAP’s 24-hour helpline can be reached at 1-800-559-2927.
From left to right: AWAP Director of Community Education Kelley Glidden, Outreach Advocate Jennie Hinkley, and Community Educator Amber McAllister light their candles.gif