On Thursday, Oct. 22, local businesses and community members across Bangor came together to support victims of domestic violence through the Walk to End Abuse in the West Market Square area of downtown.
Purple balloons brightened up the downtown area on a gloomy and gray Thursday to spark public interest in the walk.
In the center of the public space, small jars with bouquets of flowers had names on each jar to remember lost loved ones affected by abuse. The Darling’s ice cream truck collected donations and handed out free ice cream.
Before the walk began, participants who registered were able to receive free T-shirts and stickers. After a brief remembrance ceremony, participants walked for a half-mile around Main Street.
Participants also could pick up a free bagged lunch on their way out as a “thank you” for attending.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the walk is a part of many events promoting knowledge, understanding and support.
According to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, the month originated as the Day of Unity in 1981. Over time more events were added and more time devoted to the cause. The Day of Unity is now celebrated on the first Monday of October to kick off the month.
The first Domestic Violence Awareness Month occurred in 1987 and it continues today as a way to connect resources and create an even stronger team to fight violence against women and children.
In the U.S., 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been affected by some sort of physical violence by a partner, according to the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence.
The main organizer of the event, Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance, has many direct resources including a 24-hour hotline, an emergency shelter, transitional housing and other programs like children’s services, training and outreach. All services provided are free.
Amanda Cost, the Community Response Program Manager at Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance, said this is the fourth year of the event and it’s been one of the bigger turnouts, despite the cold and rainy weather. This year law enforcement and other groups came, including families and community organizations.
“The event was originally modeled after the one held in Lincoln, Maine. We wanted to create something that was not about making money but raising awareness of the issue,” Cost said.
Downtown Bangor has a lot of businesses and it is convenient for people to stop by. Cost said the organizers wanted to make this a low-barrier event where anyone could attend.
Between 20 and 30 staff and volunteers helped with the event and many local businesses were sponsors to make this event possible.
Cost said this event is important for the community because in the past people have not been helped to the fullest extent.
“Through this we can bring everyone together, including people who have felt isolated. It is an issue that affects everyone in one way or another,” Cost said.