Island men and women gathered at the Vineyard Haven seawall to take a stand against domestic violence and honor loved ones.
Last Saturday, about 30 people stood on the seawall holding chalkboards with messages against domestic violence and sexual violence toward women for the eighth annual Seawall protest against domestic violence. The goal of the event, a spokesperson said, was to promote healthier relationships through increasing visibility of the issue of violence.
The event was held by Connect to End Violence, a dual domestic violence and rape crisis center that offers confidential services to victims of domestic and sexual violence. The program is under the umbrella of Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.
According to its website, Connect’s mission is to lessen occurrences of violence by altering the social norms of Martha’s Vineyard through education, advocacy, and community mobilization.
Everyone was invited to jump in and take a stand with the members of Connect. Demonstrators were encouraged to pick up a piece of white chalk and pen their own reasons for why they were standing. Some signs were addressed to specific loved ones, reading “standing for my mom and sister,” and “my beautiful friend’s little sister,” while others called out to a more general audience “for all my female role models,” “Men can and must do better.” The standers on the wall were encouraged in their pursuits by waves and honks from cars passing by.
Even with an away game later in the day, the players of the MV Sharks men’s baseball team still participated in the event, holding their own signs in their uniforms.
Connect instructs trainees in providing support to victims of sexual and domestic violence by 1) “believing individuals are experts in their own story, know what is best for them and what safety looks like, and will make decisions based on their life circumstances.” And 2) “educating individuals on resources available in our community to promote their well-being and safety.”
For more information about Martha’s Vineyard Community Services and Connect to End Violence, visit them online at bit.ly/MVCSConnect.