The Abused Women’s Advocacy Project, strapped for funding, has laid off four workers. The action is serious for the four unemployed workers and downright frightening for every victim and potential victim of domestic abuse across central Maine.

AWAP offers support, services and shelter for victims of domestic abuse. It helps everyone who asks, never turning anyone away because of money. It’s an expensive, labor intensive endeavor. It’s also an essential community service.

Every 2 1/2 hours in Maine a woman is abused, physically or emotionally. Most of the time, the women never report the abuse. They endure it because they love their partners, they may be embarrassed or they may simply be too afraid to leave. Some of these women eventually die by the hands of their partners.

AWAP is a safety net for women who ask for help and an instructive voice teaching others how to avoid abusive relationships.

The agency offers emergency shelter, 24-hour crisis counseling, assistance with the often daunting law enforcement system and helps women obtain protection from abuse orders.

Workers have created programs in schools to help girls recognize the signs of abuse and get out of relationships before they become violent. They offer advice to friends and family members of abuse victims, and encourage people to intervene when women are in danger.

AWAP is a community conscience of decency that is being constricted because of money.

Lewiston has lost a full-time advocate to help women obtain protection orders. Advocates in Livermore and Farmington have been reduced to part-time availability, and Rumford has lost a community educator.

The agency needs support.

On Saturday morning, AWAP will host its 10th annual Winter Walk Against Violence at the Auburn Mall. This is the agency’s biggest fund-raiser of the year and we encourage the community to show its appreciation through its generosity. To make a donation, call 795-4020 or go to www.awap.org.


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