SOUTH PORTLAND — A peer-to-peer group breaking the silence on home abuse displayed about 20 banners in native companies’ home windows, shedding the sunshine on what is commonly seen as an uncomfortable topic.
Discovering Our Voices, a nonprofit group based in Camden that helps home abuse survivors and educates the general public, doesn’t need the dialogue of home violence to remain hidden at midnight, the place nobody learns concerning the subject, mentioned Patrisha McLean, founder and president.
McLean, Mary Lou Smith, a company member and Scarborough resident, and member Linda Leonard have been in South Portland on March 13, hanging banners in native companies’ home windows.
The banners function pictures of various girls, all who’ve skilled home abuse, the nationwide hotline quantity for home violence, 1-800-799-7233, and Discovering Our Voices’ web site info, findingourvoices.internet, the place folks can navigate by the entire girls featured on the banners and listen to their tales, McClean mentioned.
This was the third time the group members have gone to a neighborhood to ask enterprise homeowners to place up the banners, she mentioned.
By displaying actual girls’s experiences in storefront home windows, the banners symbolically make clear the problem, McClean mentioned. Every banner has a special particular person and their distinctive quote with the intention of it resonating with quite a lot of folks.
“So principally we’re as much as 33 girls now from throughout Maine, 18 to 81,” she mentioned. “The extra banners we are able to rise up in a single space, the higher as a result of they’re all completely different, and folks will begin noticing them and so they’ll see this occurs to everybody, younger, previous, all types of backgrounds. We have now a journalist, a trainer, a nurse, a prisoner, a jail guard, a pharmacist. On and on, it’s simply each type of lady conceivable, and that is simply to say it occurs to everyone.”
The ladies visited Nonesuch Books & Extra in South Portland, their first vacation spot of the day, to select up copies of the ebook “Why Does He Do That? Contained in the Minds of Offended and Controlling Males” by Lundy Bancroft for Smith, a home abuse survivor of 43 years, to inscribe, McLean mentioned. Discovering Our Voices then distributes these copies to folks reaching out to the group.
“So I order these from native bookstores, and our survivors write an inscription in them, and we give these to girls who want to grasp what they’re going by,” McLean mentioned. “We ordered 12 books. Mary Lou wrote an inscription in every one.”
Smith’s banner, now hanging within the window of the bookstore, comprises her quote, “It’s by no means too late to depart.”
“As a result of I left once I was 65,” she mentioned.
Now 81 years previous, Smith is working with McLean on numerous tasks, together with a survivors’ assist chat and ebook membership on the Maine Correctional Ladies’s Heart in Windham.
“I need folks’s love and compassion, not their pity and judgement,” she mentioned. “Once they give me love and compassion, I stand in addition to them. Once they give me pity and judgement, they make me a sufferer, and I’ll by no means be a sufferer once more. That’s engrained in my soul.”
McClean and Smith met in 2019, and although there may be an age distinction of 20 years, they noticed robust similarities in the way in which they have been handled by their husbands, Smith mentioned.
A home abuse survivor of 29 years, McClean had by no means realized what number of girls in her neighborhood of Camden-Rockport skilled the identical state of affairs till after she left her ex in 2016, she mentioned.
When her ex-husband, Don McClean, most well-known for the track “American Pie,” was arrested on home violence fees and made headlines, McClean mentioned girls started approaching her with their tales.
“I had lived there for 29 years, and it was girls coming as much as me and saying, ‘It has occurred to me, too,’” she mentioned. “And these have been girls, a lot of whom I’ve recognized for 30 years. They by no means knew about me, and I by no means knew about them.”
This made McClean notice that home abuse is a matter that must be mentioned within the public, she mentioned.
“There have been folks I had recognized all this time, and I by no means knew that this had ever occurred to them,” McClean mentioned. “And plenty of of them, I used to be the primary particular person they shared that with as a result of now they knew I used to be in it and so they confided to me that in addition they have been. One of many girls, my hairdresser, mentioned, ‘I’ve at all times wished to inform my story.’ That’s what sparked it. I’m like, you recognize what? I’m a photojournalist. Everybody must know what I now know. Now I knew that throughout me, this was taking place, and nobody talked about it. Nobody knew, and folks need to know.”
With the banners, Discovering Our Voices hopes to maneuver away from stereotypes like a “lady with a black eye” that will current a false picture of home abuse and violence in folks’s minds, McClean mentioned.
At first, the ladies have been contacting municipalities and native chambers of commerce for permission to place up banners, however Leonard had the concept to start out driving all the way down to completely different communities and cold-calling on companies, McClean mentioned.
There was quite a lot of assist from enterprise homeowners, Leonard mentioned. Males, too, have expressed curiosity and sometimes share their very own household’s or associates’ tales when placing up the banners.
Legion Sq. Market in South Portland instantly agreed to place up a banner when approached, mentioned supervisor Mike Cardinal. The shop is blissful to assist the group and the work the members are doing.
“They confirmed us the banner proper off the bat and advised us the whole lot occurring, and we mentioned we’d like to put it up,” he mentioned. “We’d wish to attempt to make window house for nonprofit organizations as a result of now we have a lot of it. Particularly proper now in the course of the pandemic it’s a vital matter to carry some voice to and shine some gentle on. Our first thought right here was, ‘any little bit we are able to do to assist.’ We’re blissful to be part of this.”
Situated within the Knightville space, the storefront sees a good quantity of foot visitors, Cardinal mentioned. This present of assist may impression neighborhood members or different companies into doing the identical.
“I hope to be part of elevating voices that need to be heard, and I hope us displaying that we’re comfy making house for that can assist encourage different companies that could be extra hesitant to think about doing that as effectively,” he mentioned. “On the opposite aspect we work very intently with our neighborhood, and we would like folks to know that we stand with them and we take heed to what’s occurring.”
With half of all homicides annually within the state attributable to home violence, Discovering Our Voices plans to proceed spreading girls’s tales all through Maine, McClean mentioned.
“The truth that these girls can now stand proud and communicate loud is an exquisite factor,” she mentioned. “We’re getting these banners huge as a result of folks can’t look away from these banners, and so they’ve bought to cease trying away from it. Individuals have gotten to start out trying it sq. within the eye. Till they do, the disgrace continues. The general public doesn’t notice how huge of an issue that is till they begin seeing it with their very own eyes.”
Moreover displaying banners, McClean hosts a month-to-month radio present, which she mentioned she is popping right into a podcast, at WERU Group Radio 89.9 FM on the second Friday of each month.
Individuals all in favour of studying extra concerning the girls on the banners can go to findingourvoices.net to click on on every face to take heed to their tales, McClean mentioned.
The banners are up at retailer home windows within the Mill Creek Plaza and round Ocean Road.