To the editor of THE EAGLE:
The statistics related to domestic and sexual violence are disturbing. Here are just a few: According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime (one in seven men); one in six women have experienced an attempted or completed rape (one in 33 men); 30 to 60 percent of perpetrators of domestic violence also abuse children in the household.
Named for a Massachusetts slave who won her freedom in a landmark legal decision in 1781, the Elizabeth Freeman Center (EFC) is a multicultural organization that provides services to help survivors of domestic violence and sexual abuse and leadership to prevent and end these forms of violence in Berkshire County. As reported in a recent Eagle article, last year the EFC served more than 5,000 men, women and children in the county, where the number of restraining orders issued is 37 percent higher than the state average.
On Thursday, Oct. 3, at 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian/Universalist Church at 175 Wendell Ave. in Pittsfield, Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice (BCP&J) will sponsor a special program that will highlight "Domestic Violence Awareness Month." The program will be led by Janis Broderick, executive director of the EFC, and Nakeida Bethel-Smith, an educator in the Center’s Violence Prevention Program, where she works with children and youth. Program topics will include a description of the nature of domestic and sexual violence; information on the size of the problem and how it relates to other forms of violence; and details on the EFC’s county-wide efforts and how individuals and the community can assist.
For those who participated in the recent fundraising event for the EFC, "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes," this event may help foster a deeper understanding of the nature and scope of the activities of this wonderful institution. For others, it may also provide an opportunity to seek assistance, if needed, or to learn about volunteer opportunities with the organization. There is no charge for this event. Everyone is welcome to attend and encouraged to bring others.
This program will be the fourth in a series on "Reducing Violence in Berkshire County," which was inspired by a BCP&J sponsored gathering of the same name held at Berkshire Community College last February. A panel of 10 participants, from a variety of agencies, including Ms. Broderick, shared their unique approaches to the problem at that event.
To learn more about BCP&J, visit http://bcpj.org
BRIAN J. TRAUTMAN
The writer is an instructor of peace and world order studies at BCC and a member of Berkshire Citizens for Peace and Justice.