In this time of fear and uncertainty and with the imposing of “shelter in place” orders, many in our communities are at increased risk of experiencing harassment, assault and abuse. Social distancing can leave people in homes with people who are disrespectful, controlling or abusive. In public spaces, too, we see a dangerous increase in racist assaults, particularly against Asian-Americans.

The Maine Violence Prevention Network – a collaborative of violence prevention organizations providing youth, adult and community education about preventing, interrupting and responding to violence – wants to encourage people to step in for our own and others’ safety.

If you are concerned about someone in an unsafe living situation, reach out to check on them.

If you are in a living situation that makes you feel unsafe, reach out for support when and where you can. These resources are free, confidential and available 24/7:

Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault – 1-800-871-7741. (Text or chat support is available Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-11 p.m.; text 1-800-871-7741 or visit mecasa.org and click the “chat” button.)

Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence – 1-866-834-HELP.

If you see racist posts online, you can report and/or encourage others to flood the feed with positive messages.

If you see harassment in person, step up: Interrupt by creating a distraction or by pretending to know the person targeted; ask for help from bystanders; check in with the person targeted and make sure they are safe; ask if they want the harasser reported to store management, other authorities or the police.

We are only as safe as the most vulnerable in our communities.

Clara Porter

Portland

 

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