The Cape Elizabeth Police Department has a display of purple lights up in support of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Through These Doors, the domestic violence resource center for Cumberland County has partnered with local business owners, law enforcement agencies, health care facilities, municipalities, and community members to make October “glow purple.” Courtesy photo Paul Fenton

CAPE ELIZABETH — With October being National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, organizations through Cumberland County have shown support for survivors and victims, including Cape Elizabeth.

Through These Doors, a domestic violence resource center that serves Cumberland County, wants the public to be aware of domestic violence and know that everyone plays an individual role in addressing and ending the problem, said Rebecca Hobbs, executive director.

“We all have a role to play in addressing and ending this problem,” Hobbs said. “It’s not up to professionals solely, but as neighbors and friends, as coworkers. Each one of us can see when we’re concerned about somebody who we might think is a victim, and we might be able to see if we think someone is a perpetrator. And there are things we can all do.”

Since 1977, Through These Doors has expanded, engaging with community partners, and provides individual services as well as a full range of community education and training in schools, law enforcement agencies, and workplaces, Hobbs said.

“Now we have 35 staff members and are doing lots of work to support victims and survivors of abuse and also to change common attitudes and beliefs and coordinate responses so that we’re all doing the best we can to keep people in Cumberland County safe from domestic violence,” she said.

Through These Doors provides individual assistance through a helpline, Hobbs said. In the center’s 2019 fiscal year report, there were over 5,300 helpline calls made.

In 2020, Through These Doors has several goals for October of 2020 in an effort to broaden domestic violence knowledge, Hobbs said.

“When someone is abusive, you’ll often see they are showing controlling behaviors of their partner.” she said. “They’re attempting to control where they go, who they see, what they do, maybe what they wear, maybe what they eat. Those controlling and dominating behaviors are tactics of abuse and sometimes they show up in public places, or if you know someone well, you can start to see those. And you have an op to talk to the person exhibiting the behaviors and say, I see what you’re doing that’s not ok. Or to talk to the person living with it and say, I’m concerned about you — how can I help?”

Through These Doors is partnering with Portland City Hall, Cumberland County, local business owners, law enforcement agencies, health care facilities, municipalities, and community members in Purple Light Nights, a global campaign, she said.

“The idea is to increase awareness of domestic violence through something that’s relatively easy to do, which is just shining purple lights,” Hobbs said.

The Cape Elizabeth Police Department has displayed purple lights in front of the station in support, said Police Chief Paul Fenton. Officers are also wearing purple ribbons on their uniforms.

Besides the Purple Light Nights, several other virtual events and awareness campaigns are taking place through Cumberland County, Hobbs said. Through These Doors’s social media accounts will play a big role in spreading awareness.

The Thomas Memorial Library’s website contains a resource guide and recommended reading section, said library director Rachel Davis.

With one of its 2020 goals being to prioritize diversity, inclusion, and intersectionality, Through These Doors is also participating in the White Ribbon Campaign, which seeks to engage men in efforts to end gender-based violence, the organization said.

Through These Doors is also translating awareness posters spread throughout Cumberland County organizations and businesses into six different languages, Hobbs said.

Hobbs recommends people suffering from domestic violence to call Through These Doors’s confidential hotline, 1-800-537-6066, she said.

“Our advocates are nonjudgmental,” she said. “They are not telling people what they should do. I think sometimes someone has to be leaving the relationship or the home in order to reach out to us for support and that is not true. That phone call is free, confidential, and can even be anonymous.”

She added, “Sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone who doesn’t have the same history as perhaps a family member who’s perhaps been listening to the story for a while. That can be helpful, too.”

People interested in Through These Doors or domestic violence education can also visit www.throughthesedoors.org.

Comments are not available on this story.

filed under: