Letter: Join DA in fighting gender-based violence
To the editor:
I am writing today as many people: As a female in a country that has tens of thousands untested rape kits; as someone who has too many loved ones who have been assaulted and abused; as the mother of a daughter; as a grown woman who was once a young girl, who learned early — as we all do, via messages both deafening and deceptively soft — that we are, by virtue of gender or sexual identity or both — a target for violence, and that we will be blamed for that violence, or ignored by our communities and public safety mechanisms. It is a cruel indoctrination to discover that your society is more than willing to tolerate a certain level of brutality as the price of — what? Keeping power? Doing business? Accommodating some invented biological impulse to injure women?
I write as a member of the Berkshire County community, where even on this already-hostile nationwide landscape, we stand out: Domestic violence rates outpace the state by 36% here. So I write from a space of violence, emboldened by years of ineffective strategies and neglect.
Yet I also write today with hope, because our new district attorney, Andrea Harrington, has announced an initiative to address what can only be called the catastrophe of sexual and domestic assault if you dare process the data, if you dare consider the terror undergirding the statistics. It is a relief to see the team of women and others Harrington has assembled to develop a county-wide strategy that calls upon all of us to join the fight.
It will take all of us to change our culture. The task of creating communities free of gendered violence is large, and overdue, and entirely achievable. But it is not solely the job of a prosecutor's office.
As Berkshire County residents, we all have a moral obligation to confront why violence has flourished here, and to participate in the process of healing and public safety. We must all find ways to participate. We cannot be bystanders. Not anymore.
If it takes a village to properly raise a person, it also takes a village to hurt one, and to heal one. Healing begins by naming the injury. I thank DA Harrington for doing just that — for naming the crisis of gendered violence, and for seeking out community-based solutions that will set us on a road toward a world where we can all live safely, and live well.
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