By: Julie Pike, Editor-in-Chief
This past month USM and members of the local community have been showing support and spreading awareness for domestic violence.
Going back to 1981, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence started a “Day of Unity” to help unite and connect those combating domestic violence, according to the Association of Junior Leagues International (AJLI). The day evolved into a national month to spread awareness on the issues of domestic violence. It’s seen as an opportunity to show support for those experiencing domestic violence as well as a way to connect those who work to end domestic violence across the country, the ALJI said on their website.
At USM the Huskies for Reproductive Health along with the Campus Safety Project is hosting a vigil on Oct. 29, to honor those who have been lost to domestic violence, as well as survivors. The event will take place on the lawn between Luther Bonney and Payson-Smith in Portland, from 6:45 to 8 p.m. They will provide candles to those in attendance, talk about support service options both on and off campus, have a moment of silence as well as scheduled speakers.
Sarah Gordon, the Project Coordinator for the Campus Safety Project has been actively involved in initiatives for Domestic Violence Awareness Month this year. She collaborated with USM Athletics to host two games, including women’s soccer and field hockey, over the Homecoming weekend, where the USM athletes wore purple. The Campus Safety Project also tabled and shared resources at these games, according to Sarah Holmes, Deputy Title IX Coordinator at USM.
The Annual Security Report from USM Public Safety covering 2015 to 2017 shows that there were two reports of domestic violence in 2017 on the Gorham campus. In 2016, three reports of domestic violence were reported on non-campus property in both Portland and Lewiston/Auburn.
The Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence (MCEDV) reported that a domestic violence assault is reported every 1 hour and 52 minutes in Maine. MCEDV also reported that each year in Maine domestic violence accounts for approximately half of the assaults reported to law enforcement. In 2016, domestic violence assaults comprised 45.3 percent of the total assaults reported. However MCEDV also mentions that nationally only about half of domestic violence crimes are reported to police.
Across the United States, one in four women and one in seven men has experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, according to MCEDV. Forty-four percent of lesbian women, 61 percent of bisexual women, and 35 percent of heterosexual women experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime, the statistics from MCEDV reported. Twenty-six percent of gay men, 37 percent of bisexual men, and 29 percent of heterosexual men experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime.
Holmes said that the best resources for members of the USM community includes USM Counseling Services; Through These Doors, a domestic violence resource center helping victims and survivors in Cumberland County, Maine; Safe Voices, a nonprofit that provides support services for victims of domestic violence in Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties; and a 24 hour statewide helpline for Maine, 1-866-834-HELP. Holmes also provides support for students affected by interpersonal violence and can help them navigate systems at USM, she said.