GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

February 12, 2013

Letter: Standing up against violence on women


Gloucester Daily Times

---- — To the editor:

Open your hearts and join us on Valentine’s Day, Thursday, at 12:15 at the Cape Ann Savings Bank Park, 101 Main Street, as we celebrate “One Billion Rising.”

This is your opportunity to rise, dance, and speak out to demand an end to violence against women and girls. Join global activists as we bring one voice to our passionate cry for justice for women all over the world – child brides, victims of rape and sex trafficking, children fearful in their own homes, victims and survivors of domestic violence.

There are 7 billion people on our planet. Half of us are women. One in three of us will be beaten, raped or assaulted. That means that most of us know someone – a daughter, an aunt, a sister, a mother, a grandmother, perhaps even ourselves – who has experienced interpersonal violence.

On Thursday, Gloucester will be joining One Billion Rising, a global campaign to stop violence against women and girls. The Gloucester Coalition for the Prevention of Domestic Abuse, HAWC (Healing Abuse Working for Change) and the North Shore Rape Crisis Center are joining forces to make a public statement that we can and will demand an end to violence – locally, nationally, globally.

For decades, the city of Gloucester has been at the forefront of addressing the issue of domestic abuse. HAWC has maintained a presence downtown since 1996, providing direct services to those struggling with domestic violence through their 24-hour hotline, support groups, crisis counseling, parent and child trauma recovery programs and court advocacy.

The Coalition for the Prevention of Domestic Abuse brings concerned residents and organizations together to conduct ongoing education and awareness campaigns. Coalition members represent social service agencies, faith communities, law enforcement, and those who choose to take an active role in bringing an end to domestic violence.

And in 2001, the coalition launched the “domestic violence-free zone” campaign, which focuses on our commitment to create and maintain a safe community for all of our residents. The North Shore Rape Crisis Center provides assistance to victims of sexual assault.

As a therapist in private practice, I continue to see the long-term impact of living in a home darkened by the shadow of violence — trauma, fear, isolation, rage and helplessness are just a few of the responses survivors deal with on a daily basis. As a city, we can respond to this call to action with comprehensive services to victims and survivors, as well as demanding compassionate accountability towards offenders.

Violence is a learned behavior, and it can be unlearned. I urge men to come forward on Valentine’s Day — a day to celebrate love – and declare that the women and girls in their lives will no longer be subjected to gender-based violence.

If you cannot join us, please step out of your office, step out of your homes, or stand at your desk in a moment of recognition that the time has come for us to put an end to the violence.

NICOLE RICHON-SCHOEL

Woodbury Street, Gloucester