When we think about October, many of us envision Halloween inclusive of pumpkins, children in costumes asking for treats and playing pranks. For older Halloween observers the occasion usually includes telling horror stories trying to invoke ghosts, ghouls and the occasional paranormal spirit. For some October is known as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to break the silence, stand strong together in unity to end the scourge of domestic abuse in all its ugly manifestations.
On October 12 some Malden residents participated in the first Domestic Violence Awareness Walk cosponsored by Malden STEPS (Steps Toward Empowering Personal Safety) and Zonta. The walk began at Salemwood School with an acknowledgment of appreciation to all who came out from Mayor Gary Christenson and a keynote address by M. J. Wright from REACH beyond domestic violence. The “Walk” culminated at City Hall with a candle light moment of silence for those Massachusetts victims of domestic violence who were killed during 2014 and their voices forever silenced.
These unfortunate victims have been silenced, permanently, but we are not. Most of us were shocked to see the video of NFL football player Ray Rice punch his fiancé in the face and knock her unconscious in an elevator of a casino. That video forced us to look at the glaring truth of what has been kept hidden behind closed doors of too many homes, with the battered victims living in fear, shame, and isolation afraid to speak out for so many reasons. It’s important to understand that domestic violence is not just physical violence, but presents itself in many forms such as financial, psychological, emotional, and sexual abuse. What then, now that we know domestic violence is real and it doesn’t discriminate, it exist across race, class, sex, age, professions, employed, unemployed, educated, uneducated, rich and poor? To do nothing when we have seen and heard what domestic violence does to its victims, we contribute to preserving that environment of fear, isolation and abuse. We can wear a purple ribbon the color of Domestic Violence Awareness Month and tell others why ending domestic violence is important. Contact your Members of Congress before the end of October and tell them they must reauthorize a version of Violence Against Women Act (S.1925) that protects all victims. We can join hands with local organizations such as Zonta, STEPS, and REACH to bring awareness to others while we take a stand with the survivors of domestic violence. Regrettably there are many horrific statistics such as, one in four women have been victims of domestic violence; each day three women die because of domestic violence; one in five women have been raped. There are national as well as state legislation that protect the rights of domestic abuse victims and we applaud these. There are resources available through the Department of Public Health, Jane Doe Inc., the National Center on Domestic & Sexual Violence and the National Network to End Domestic Violence to name just a few. The critical factor is that we all take some action to end this plague that terrorizes and impairs our society. –Karen Lynch and Marcia Manong