RUMFORD — A crowd of about 50 community members and employees from community resource centers gathered Wednesday evening at the American Legion  hall to join the 6th Annual Every Step Matters Walk to End Domestic Violence.

According to Diane Gallagher, Oxford County community educator at Safe Voices, the idea for the walk first came from Rumford Police Chief Stacy Carter. In the beginning, the walk to raise awareness about domestic violence started was around Hosmer Field in Rumford, but it now starts at the American Legion hall, goes to Hosmer Field and back to the hall for a free meal for the community.

The food was paid for by Oxford County Community Safety Workgroup of the Oxford County Wellness Collaborative. Oxford County Mental Health Services prepared it, Gallagher said.

“Domestic violence affects almost everyone in one way or another, whether you’re a survivor, living in a domestic violence home, related to someone or care about someone,” Gallagher said. The walk and the meal are ways the community can contribute to an awareness of domestic violence and finding ways to contribute is important, she said.

“Whatever you can contribute is enough and it’s going to be OK because that’s what is going to make a difference,” Gallagher said.

Before the crowd left for the walk, Chief Carter and Safe Voices Executive Director Elise Johansen told them about the key to ending domestic violence and gave them ideas on how to help end it.

“The key to ending domestic violence is having the community involved, specifically talking about domestic violence,” Carter said.

“Violence affects everybody in our community — family, friends, our businesses and the community as a whole,” Carter said. “It is important for everybody to be aware of it and to talk about it.” The only way that to try to end domestic violence is through conversation and getting help for those who are affected, he added.

Johansen requested that the crowd think about one to three things to commit to doing during Domestic Violence Action in October. They included: speak up and have dialogues with friends and family if jokes were made about domestic violence; make a phone contact number for Safe Voices available to someone who may need it; or bring no longer needed household items to shelters for domestic abuse victims.

Anyone who needs assistance for domestic violence abuse is urged to contact or their 24-hour helpline at 1-800-559-2927.

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The River Valley 6th Annual Every Step Matters Walk to End Domestic Violence was held Wednesday evening in Rumford. 

Sylvia Hodsdon, 10, waits while her aunt, Renee Hodsdon, attaches ribbons from balloons to her braid before the start of the River Valley 6th Annual Walk to End Domestic Violence in Rumford on Wednesday evening. 

The crowd at the River Valley 6th Annual Every Step Matters Walk to End Domestic Violence attach ribbons from their balloons to their wrists, braids, or handbags on Wednesday evening in Rumford.

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