Domestic Violence Awareness Month is observed each year in the month of October. The United States Congress officially designated October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in 1987 after being unofficially observed for several years.
The Hope and Justice Project’s has featured an exhibit at the University of Maine at Fort Kent Blake Library which consist of quilts put together by The Northern Quilters. These quilts were designed by women who are survivors of domestic violence. There also is a quilt designed by Wallagrass Elementary school children who have had prevention education services from the Hope and Justice Project at their school. The quilt is based on a book; I Call My Hand Gentle, by author Amanda Haan.
In addition to the quilts, The Clothesline Project, a program that began in 1990 to address the issue of violence against women. Like the quilts made from the St. John Valley victims, The Clothesline Project is a vehicle to express their emotions by decorating a shirt. Then the shirt is hung on a clothesline to be viewed by others as a testimony to the problem of violence against women.
Another section of the exhibit is An Empty Place at the Table. This display is a way to memorialize victims who were murdered this past year in the state of Maine and as a visual reminder of the deadliness of domestic violence. The exhibit was born out of the desire to grieve the loss and celebrate the lives of women and children who were killed as a result of domestic violence. Each of the victims had a place at the table. Their murders also left a symbolic empty place in society. This exhibit demonstrates the devastating result of violence against women and children and helps ensure that these deaths are not forgotten.
The Hope and Justice Project encourage the community to seek out opportunities to learn more about domestic violence and bullying and how to prevent such incidences. Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used by one individual to control or exert power over another individual in the context of an intimate relationship. The violence encompasses all forms: sexual assault, physical violence, verbal, emotional, or mental abuse. This violence occurs in all socioeconomic classes, without regard to race, religion, or sexual orientation.
The Hope and Justice Project continue to help people affected by abuse and violence in Aroostook County. Services include 24hr hotline (1-800-439-2323), emergency shelter, transitional housing, individual and group support, advocacy and legal representation, prevention education, and a volunteer program for those interested in a comprehensive training for hotline workers.
The exhibit may be viewed during regular Blake Library hours. For more information, please contact Gallery Curator Sofia Birden at 834-7527.