Domestic violence vigil to be held in Huntington

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HUNTINGTON, Mass. (The Westfield News) – Residents, leaders of faith and activists will be gathering in Huntington Thursday night, to try and bring awareness to those impacted by domestic violence.

An Interfaith Candlelight Vigil on Domestic Violence will be held on the Huntington town green on May 4, beginning at 7 p.m., followed by an informal gathering at Stanton Hall, organized by members of an interfaith initiative sponsored by the Southern Hilltown Domestic Violence Task Force. Residents from Huntington and other nearby communities are urged to attend and can talk with leaders from a variety of faiths. In addition to bringing awareness to those impacted by domestic violence, the event is also aimed at giving an understanding of how religious faith impacts victims and their resources, as well as the effect on rural areas and isolation can have on domestic violence.

“Victims of trauma, research shows, are more likely to go to a faith leader for help than any other profession,” Monica Moran, coordinator for the Southern Hilltown Domestic Violence Task Force, said. “That is why we need to be partnering with faith leaders. That’s where people are going to go for help.”

Moran cited research done by the Chattam County Victim Witness Program, a program of the Office of the District Attorney in Georgia, which she said stated victims of domestic violence are five times more likely “to go to their faith leader than any other helping professional.”

According to Moran, while domestic violence can occur anywhere, rural communities have unique circumstances that may increase the seriousness of the incidents.

“There’s more risk factors in rural areas because you’re isolated,” Moran said.

She said that this can be compounded if victims don’t have transportation, among other factors, which can lead to victims being in these situations longer.

Moran added that isolation may be one of the biggest warnings that someone may be in a relationship with domestic violence, which may include being around less, not showing up to work or reducing contact with those close to them.

“Many people think of it as an impulsive problem with anger, but it’s very calculated,” she said.

According to a press release provided by Moran, last year advocates for the Hilltown Safety at Home, a nonprofit organization that assists those impacted by domestic violence, reported that they assisted 78 victims and survivors of domestic violence in 2016.

For more information or for help dealing with possible domestic violence, you can text or call Hilltown Safety at Home at 413-559-8039, or in emergency they can call the 24 hours-a-day hotline of the YWCA at 1-800-796-8711 or Safe Passage at 888-345-5282.

Westfield News staff reporter Greg Fitzpatrick contributed to this story.