Kelley Glidden: Creating a culture where abuse is not tolerated

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and recent tragic events have been a sobering reminder of the way this issue touches so many in our community.

The death of Laudrinha Kubeloso was a needless loss for her friends, family and community, and the sad fact is that for every case of domestic violence that makes it into the news, there are many more that may never come to light.

While we mourn the loss of Ms. Kubeloso, we hope to honor her and others who have lost their lives to domestic violence by shining that light on the issue. At Safe Voices our mission is to support and empower those affected by domestic violence and engage the community in creating social change in Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties.

One way to foster social change is to raise awareness and open up dialogues about domestic violence so those needing assistance know they are not alone, it is not their fault, and there is support available.

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Each October, Safe Voices conducts a variety of events and awareness campaigns to help educate people about the dynamics of domestic violence and the services available. The specifics are different each year, but the underlying message is the same — everyone deserves to be safe and respected in their relationships. No matter a person’s race, age, gender, country of origin, religion or sexual orientation — that is true for all of us, and Safe Voices strives to meet the needs of each individual who comes to us because they do not feel safe in their relationship.

However, working to end domestic violence is not just about providing services to those experiencing abuse. Each individual in our community has a role to play in creating a culture where abuse is not tolerated.

For that reason, this year Safe Voices has adopted a theme of Community Heroes, to highlight the fact that we all have the power to make our community a safer place. You don’t need to be a professional advocate to listen, offer support, or provide information on some of the resources our community has to offer.

At Safe Voices, we work with community heroes every day — law enforcement officers who go the extra mile to help keep victims safe, health care providers who take the time to screen for domestic violence and refer to support services, employers who develop domestic violence policies to support their workers, friends and family who provide a supportive ear or a safe place to stay. And the survivors who are facing so many challenges but keep on going to find safety for themselves and their families.

In the wake of recent tragic events, there are probably many people asking themselves what needs to happen to prevent future acts of domestic violence, but unsure what they can do to make a difference.

There are many ways to get involved but one easy thing that anyone can do is to help raise awareness by sending the message that our community will not accept domestic abuse. It can be as simple as participating in a Wear Purple Day through your workplace, community group or faith organization. Or come out to show your support at a vigil, rally, or other community event.

As part of our Crossing Bridges campaign, purple bows have been tied on bridges around Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties.

Also this year, with support from Franklin Savings Bank, Safe Voices will be donating children’s books to public libraries throughout the tri-county area as part of our Community Heroes: Knowledge is Power campaign.

It is not hard to be a community hero. All it takes is using your voice to speak out against domestic violence and support those affected by it.

We invite everyone in our community to take part in creating an environment in which violence is not tolerated and each individual has the right to safety in their relationship.

As more people join their voices and show support in whatever way they can, we will begin to see the social change that will prevent future tragedies.

Kelley Glidden is the director of Community Education for Safe Voices, the domestic violence resource center serving Androscoggin, Franklin, and Oxford counties.

Candlelight vigils on Monday

Safe Voices will host simultaneous annual candlelight vigils at 6 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 6, at Festival Plaza in Auburn, the Village Green in Dixfield, the Olsen Student Center at the University of Maine at Farmington, and the American Legion in Oxford.

For more information on any of the events happening as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, or to schedule a presentation, training or other event for your organization, contact Kelley at 795-6744 or visit www.safevoices.org.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, contact Safe Voices’ confidential 24-hour helpline at 1-800-559-2927.

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