Gardner helping to break the silence
surrounding domestic violence
GARDNER — "The ceremony was too important to allow an early autumn rainstorm to force a delay.
The city formally designated October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month as Mayor Michael Nicholson read a proclamation during a vigil held inside City Hall. The annual event, which was sponsored by the Gardner Domestic Violence Task Force to honor victims of domestic violence, was originally scheduled to be held on the front steps of the building but was moved inside due to inclement weather.
“It’s very important for us to still have this event even if it is raining outside,” Nicholson said in his remarks during the Oct. 4 ceremony. “Because it’s the people who work in this building, and the people who this building represents, that need to be constantly thinking about domestic violence and the impact that it has on our community. Because our job here is to serve everyone who lives here (and) make sure everyone has a place they are proud to call their home.”
A list of victims in the state who have lost their lives to domestic violence — including seven names from the Gardner area — was read at the event.
“The people whose names are read tonight, the people who are on our minds when we have these events, they were part of this community, too, and their story is our story,” Nicholson said.
A number of local resource organizations — including the Voices of Truth Center, the Montachusett Opportunity Council, Alyssa’s Place, the YWCA of Central Massachusetts and the Spanish-American Center in Leominster — had tables set up at the event.
“The purpose of this event is to raise awareness and to make all of the resources that are available known to the community,” said Bernice Richard, president of Voices of Truth and coordinator of the Gardner Domestic Violence Task Force. “We’re here to educate the community about what domestic violence is, and to show that there is support available to the victims and the survivors.”
COVID, isolation exacerbated domestic violence
The past 18 months have exacerbated the problem of domestic violence in the Greater Gardner area, Richard said.
“COVID has definitely had an impact, especially the isolation,” she said. “Women are starting to come out and open up about their experiences.”
Purple lights to raise awareness
Richard said Gardner is a community that is very supportive of domestic violence victims, noting that several downtown businesses have put up purple lights to raise awareness of the issue and to start a conversation about ways it can be prevented.
“(The lights) help to break the silence, and silence is what keeps women in isolation, and we want them to know that they can talk to people,” she said.
If you need help
Call 911 if you are in danger.
YWCA Domestic Violence Services 24-hour safe and confidential assistance: Helpline
508-755-9030 and Chatline www.ywcahelp.com
Safe Link state-wide 24-hour Hotline 877-785-2020 " The Gardner News