EASTON, Conn. — The setting sun poked through a large cloud Monday evening as a team from the Center for Family Justice transformed the pavilion at the Easton Community Center for the first of a series of annual Domestic Violence Awareness vigils it is holding in the towns it serves.
First to appear around the pavilion were purple cutouts representing silent witnesses to abuse. As a pavilion picnic table was transformed into an information table, community members started to gather at the pavilion.
A young volunteer began to ring a bell every 9 seconds a few minutes before the formal program began. Acknowledging that the sound of the bell ringing throughout the program may become irritating, the first speaker, Debra A. Greenwood, president and CEO of CFJ, said it is appropriate.
“This symbolizes that in the United States, every 9 seconds, someone becomes a victim of abuse,” she said. Noting that the interval had been 15 seconds at past vigils, Greenwood explained that this increase in frequency may be attributed to more victims becoming aware of available services. “Victims are all ages, from kids up to parents and grandparents. We need to identify what abuse looks like.”
Easton First Selectman Adam Dunsby thanked the CFJ staff and town police officers present for the work they do as first responders to domestic violence. “Every October, we gather to remember the victims and to thank the people who have to go into these situations. Thank you for caring,” he said.
Easton Chief of Police Tim Shaw spoke about the White Ribbon campaign, which is an effort to engage men in ending violence against women.
“The White Ribbon Campaign is something I strongly believe in,” Shaw said. “How do we get word out? Treat women and girls as if they are your mom, the person you love and adore the most.”
Greenwood invited those present to sign the White Ribbon campaign pledge that they will not condone violence against women and girls.
She then introduced a group of boys who read the names of the 12 victims who have died as a result of domestic violence in the state of Connecticut since last year’s vigil. After the reading of the names, one survivor anonymously shared her story with the audience. She expressed gratitude to CFJ for the services she received there, which helped her escape a dangerous living situation.
“Years ago, we had 35, 40 names. Now we have 12. It’s still too many,” Greenwood said. “We have less homicide, and more coming forward who are victims of abuse. Our job is to turn a victim into a survivor.”
The Center for Family Justice will hold additional vigils, all at 6 p.m.:
- in Stratford on Tuesday, Oct. 4;
- at the University of Bridgeport on Wednesday, Oct. 5;
- in Monroe on Thursday, Oct. 6;
- in Fairfield on Thursday, Oct. 13; and
- in Trumbull on Tuesday, Oct. 18.
Visit centerforfamilyjustice.org for more information.
The domestic violence hotline is 203-384-9559.
In addition to Easton, the Bridgeport-based Center for Family Justice also serves Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull.