Students and staff gathered together in the rain at Stewart Quad for the commencement of the University of Maine’s ninth annual March Against Domestic Violence.
Every Oct. 14, the Maine Business School (MBS) hosts a march to the Memorial Union, followed by a lineup of extraordinary speakers. At the end of the march, a ceremony commemorates the Maine residents that we have lost in 2022 as a result of domestic violence.
Each of the participants wore purple clothing or pins in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Before introducing the first speaker, MBS Corps took a moment to recognize and pay respect to the Penobscot Nation and their enduring relationship with this land.
The discussion began with an address from Vice President for Student Life and Inclusive Excellence and Dean of Students Robert Dana. He articulated how moving it is that there was such a large amount of attendees but at the same time, incredibly disconcerting that we still have to come together in order to face the issue at hand.
Above all else, the dedication put into organizing this event and honoring survivors/victims of domestic violence elicits hope for the potential for change. Dana described the deed of vectoring. Having an open conversation with peers, family or colleagues regarding the inhumanity and harmfulness within our society is imperative. He went on to say how vectoring causes a similar ripple effect that dropping a stone into a pond creates. Change does not have to come about monumentally, but through the constant spreading of positive messages.
“If you can remember nothing else, remember that kindness counts and that seeing something or saying something matters,” Dana said.
The next speaker introduced was the Executive Director of Partners for Peace Amanda Cost. She gave a brief synopsis describing the role that the organization plays within our community. Cost, along with her colleagues, strives to support individuals who have experienced abuse and violence in the Penobscot and Piscataquis counties. They hope to both provide resources for victims as well as find ways to educate the public about ways to reduce any future harm.
“Much progress has been made thus far to support those who have been harmed. However, there is much more progress that needs to be made,” Cost said.
Partners for Peace has helped hundreds of thousands of individuals who have experienced abuse and is getting ready to celebrate the organization’s 50th anniversary this year. They are available 24 hours a day with complete confidentiality for anyone who feels comfortable reaching out.
The next speaker was Casey Faulkingham, the director of development and engagement at Partners for Peace. She began by informing the audience about internship opportunities. Partners for Peace is an excellent place to volunteer and receive hours for academic programs. There are a variety of ways to help support survivors and get involved through the organization.
Faulkingham then clarified precisely what domestic violence is and how it is used as an umbrella term to encompass a variety of different experiences.
“Domestic violence and abuse is a pattern of control in the context of a relationship or family that is purposeful and non-consensual based on a belief system of entitlement,” Faulkingham explained.
Eli White of Male Athletes Against Violence (MAAV) was welcomed to speak after. He challenged the men in the room to analyze their position in our community and understand the impact they may have. MAAV spreads awareness about how violence against women is a men’s issue and how to stop those instances from occurring. White finalized his part of the discussion by reading the MAAV pledge and inviting the audience to challenge themselves to make a difference.
The final speaker was Lt. Col. Steven Veves from the UMaine Army ROTC. He began by emphasizing how the issue of domestic violence is something that the army takes very seriously and how imperative it is to take action. A bystander is someone who is uninvolved in situations of potential abuse but has the agency to speak up and put it to a stop. To be the voice of the voiceless is an incredibly powerful position that should not be taken lightly.
The final portion of the event was devoted to reading the names of all of the people in Maine who passed away this year as a result of domestic violence. A flower was placed for each of them in remembrance of their lives and the hope that someday, there will be zero names to read at the conclusion of this march.