FARMINGTON — Forty purple bows were placed on bridges across Franklin County on Friday to raise awareness about domestic violence during October.

The bows were placed on bridges with walkways so people can stop and read their attached messages, Stacie Bourassa, community educator for Safe Voices, said. It’s part of a Crossing Bridges campaign, finding new ways to raise awareness and connect with those not reached in the past, she said.

Along with the bows, an annual Domestic Violence Memorial Vigil is planned for 6 p.m. Monday, Oct. 7, in Meetinghouse Park in Farmington.

Dr. Connie Adler, Sheriff Scott Nichols Sr., Safe Voices advocate Rebecca Austin and Kelly Bentley, board member and UMF professor, will share a few words, followed by a moment of silence and a new Flying Wish Paper Ceremony, Bourassa said. It’s a special type of paper on which participants will write a wish, form it into a tunnel, light it on fire and watch the colorful flames before it burns out, she said. 

A candlelight procession follows through the downtown to North Church for an open sharing time and cupcakes, she said.

On Oct. 9, Health Cares about Domestic Violence will be observed in the Healing Garden at Franklin Memorial Hospital. The public is invited; the time is to be announced, she said.


The observances will feature a display of cards representing the 30 domestic-violence-related homicides since January 2011  in Maine, she said. Each card bears a silhouette, name and age of a person who has been murdered, she said.

Over the past decade, 50 percent of Maine homicides have been related to domestic violence, Bourassa said.

“Some people don’t realize it’s much of an issue,” she said. “It’s a tough subject and they’re not comfortable.”

Part of her job in prevention and education is to help people understand how to respond if someone is in a violent situation or for victims, how to reach out and how to ask for help.

“What part can we play to make a change?” she asked. “The biggest part is to stand up, speak out and be a good support.”

It’s a difficult and challenging subject for family members who try to be supportive, especially since it can take seven to eight tries for a victim to successfully leave an abuser.


Bourassa provides presentations in grades kindergarten to 12, at UMF and in the business community while Austin, the local Safe Voices advocate, provides services for victims within the court system.

Over the past three years, the issue has escalated, rising 5 percent each year, she said.

“It’s always  hard to know, is it getting worse or are our jobs working and more people are reaching out?” she said.

One plus is that local law enforcement understands the issue, she said.

Safe Voices will also partner with local businesses for an Art Walk in Kingfield from 5 to 8 p.m. Oct. 11.  

Safe Voices will host a display of Penny Hood’s “Portraits of Courage” at CSM Real Estate.  The display supports victims of domestic violence and sexual assault and highlights where they found strength on their journey.


Austin will lead an improv dance piece at the Stadler Gallery that evening at 5:30, 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., Bourassa said.

The traditional red flags of the participating Art Walk businesses will give way to purple flags for the evening.

People are invited to wear purple on Oct. 16 and upload photos to the Safe Voices Facebook page. Bourassa will travel around taking photos to upload, she said.

The last week of the month is devoted to “painting your profile purple” on Facebook, another effort to reach as many people as possible.

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