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Purple Ribbons Signal Support for Those Facing Domestic Violence

Not content with the usual fall colors of red and gold, students have added a splash of purple to the scenery around campus.

October 21 was Purple Thursday, one of the many ways to observe Domestic Violence Action/Awareness Month. By wearing something purple for the day, people send a message of support to victims and survivors.

The Campus Safety Project took the lead in that effort with support from students with the Community Nursing Partnership. They set up tables where students could pick up purple ribbons and informational packets at the Abromson Community Education Center in Portland and Bailey Dining Hall in Gorham.

“One of my classmates actually told me that she didn’t know about Purple Thursday prior to this event,” said senior Habon Khalid, who was staffing the table in Portland. “With more people gaining awareness of the issue, we hope to help people recognize signs of unhealthy behavior in relationships and prevent domestic/intimate partner violence.”

The Maine Department of Public Safety recorded 3,490 reported incidents of domestic violence assault across the state in 2020. That’s a 5.4% decrease from the previous year.

As a point of comparison, 2020 also saw 790 cases of aggravated assault and 11,281 cases of simple assault. Of the 22 homicides reported during that same period, five of them were categorized as domestic violence.

But the full human impact goes beyond the numbers. “Many domestic violence victims don’t reach out to law enforcement, so domestic violence assault statistics give an incomplete picture of the problem,” said Shannon Moss, Public Information Officer for the Maine Department of Public Safety.

“The goal is for the victims not only to have access to the appropriate resources, but to feel empowered enough to utilize them,” said senior Dan Tominovich from his seat beside Khalid at the informational table in Portland. “If a victim sees a campus-wide support system, they are far more likely to seek help.”

The packets that Tominovich and Khalid handed out included information about the following campus resources:

The Gorham Health and Counseling Center or the Portland Health Center can be reached by calling (207) 780-5411 or emailing usmhealthcounseling@maine.edu. To reach the counseling centers for the Portland and Lewiston Campuses, call (207) 780-4050 or email counselingservices@maine.edu.

Outside of campus, Through These Doors is an organization that serves all of Cumberland County by providing services related to domestic violence. Its helpline at 1-800-537-6066 accepts calls 24 hours a day and conversations are kept confidential.