Leaders target domestic violence

 

Mayor leads White Ribbon Day observance on Common

Greenfield Recorder 04/11/2015, Page C01

By KATHLEEN McKIERNAN Recorder Staff

GREENFIELD — Wearing white ribbons, a couple dozen Greenfield leaders and community members stood outside in the damp cold on the Town Commonon Friday to pledge against violence against women and girls as part of the town’s first White Ribbon Day event.

“Violence is all around us,” said Mayor William Martin. “It’s always the time for us to intervene. It takes all of us, all of our eyes to get involved.”

The Northwestern District Attorney David Sullivan’s office and the Mayor’s Domestic Violence Task Force held a ceremony for White Ribbon Day as part of a larger international movement of men and boys working to end violence against women and girls, to promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.

Martin declared April 10 as White Ribbon Day in Greenfield.

“Though domestic violence is often thought of as happening behind closed doors, its impact is felt far outside those doors,” said Town Council President Hillary Hoffman. “It’s everyone’s business. We’re all affected.”

“Because too often these conversations are held in private, with friends, among women. ‘Are you okay? Is she okay? Tell her I’m here for her.’ That’s not enough,” Hoffman said.

Domestic violence is far-ranging, Hoffman said. About 2.3 million people are raped or physically assaulted each year by a current or former intimate partner or spouse. And in their lifetime, 22.1 percent of women and 7.4 percent of men will report assaults by a current or former, or date, she said.

While it may seem advocacy doesn’t have an impact, Rep. Paul Mark said it does, citing the new domestic violence law passed last year.

The law established a first offense for a domestic assault and battery charge, stiffened penalties, delayed bail for the accused by six hours to provide the victim time to arrange for safety. It also created a specific felony charge of strangulation and suffocation and establishes a penalty of up to five years in state prison, up to 2½ years in a house of correction, by a fine of up to $5,000 or by both a fine and imprisonment.

As fathers, brothers and sons, we need to acknowledge that domestic violence not only hurts the individual but sets violence in motion for generations, Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh said.

“As a police department, we pledge to support those women who have courageously come forward and to empower those who have not yet,” Haigh said.

“Being in high school, nothing is behind closed doors,” said Cheyenne Edwards, a Franklin County Technical School student and president of the National Honor Society chapter. “Why can’t we just get the things that do happen behind closed doors to go around?” The Franklin County Technical School students have been active in raising awareness at their school this year. Throughout the school, classes created artistic images dedicated to White Ribbon Day and ending violence.

“It’ll take generations to change, but it will take us,” said Sullivan. “These students have made it their mission to change the next generation.”

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:kmckiernan@recorder.com or 413-772-0261 ext. 268On Twitter, follow @RecorderKatMcK