Martha’s Vineyard march heightens sexual assault awareness

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Vineyarders gathered at the Ocean Park bandstand Saturday morning to raise public awareness about sexual assault.

Connect to End Violence director Jennifer Neary and the service’s education and prevention coordinator, Heather Arpin, led the event. In a walk that stretched down Circuit Avenue and then past the Steamship Authority terminal, awareness participants held signs that read, “It’s not your fault,” “Your voice has power,” “I walk because I care,” and “Flirting is not consent,” among other support phrases.

Neary later told The Times that by the third quarter of the current fiscal year, Connect to End Violence had offered support and advocacy services to 270 survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. The figure comes on top of some 300-plus calls Connect to End Violence fields on its hotline annually.

For the entirety of its prior fiscal year, Connect to End Violence managed 230 cases of domestic violence and sexual assault. Neary said the numbers are in accord with averages across the commonwealth, and noted Connect to End Violence owes a good deal of its success to its good relationship with law enforcement, the courts, and the hospital.

The walk Saturday drew about 40 people (and some pets), and raised $400, Neary said.