RUMFORD — Numerous individuals and groups took part in the Every Step Matters Walk to End Domestic Violence on Wednesday afternoon.

The annual walk, part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, took a different route this year, starting at the American Legion at the head of Congress Street then down to the Hosmer Field Complex on Lincoln Avenue, before ending back at the Legion for a public resource and forum dinner.

The walk, sponsored by Oxford County Domestic Violence Task Force, is designed to enhance community awareness.

The dinner was sponsored by Oxford County Mental Health Services, thanks to a grant from the John T. Gorman Foundation. Executive Director Stephanie Leblanc said this is the first community wellness and safety event the agency has sponsored with the grant, with the purpose of bringing awareness and showing the resources the agency has available. It would like to partner with similar wellness events in the community on a quarterly basis.

An upcoming event for Domestic Violence Awareness Month is Wear Purple Day on Thursday, Oct. 20. Businesses and residents are encouraged to display purple to show support for those affected by domestic violence and to help raise awareness.

Diane Gallagher, Oxford County community educator at Safe Voices, a domestic violence resource center, reported that more victims are willing to accept support services. There were 737 domestic complaints in Oxford County in 2015, up from 487 in 2014. In 2015, of the 25 homicides committed in Maine, 10 were domestic-violence related. As of August 2016, of nine homicides, three were domestic-violence related.

Gallagher said there is a long way to go to eliminate domestic violence from our communities, but progress is being made. As understanding grows about the root causes of domestic violence, communities are striving to build more resilient individuals and families and eliminate the adverse childhood experiences that contribute to its perpetuation. 

For information on how to become involved or if you need assistance, contact; 24-hour helpline at 1-800-559-2927.

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