WALLINGFORD — Police Officer Kelly Boyle has planned several events to engage the community during the department’s first observance of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Boyle, a school resource officer and the department’s domestic violence coordinator, said that Wallingford’s rate of domestic violence incidents is “pretty average for the rest of the state” according to the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
She said that planning for the month-long observance began during the summer.
“I did some research on similar events around the country,” she said, “and I picked exhibits and events that would have an impact on our community to show the extent of domestic violence (statewide).”
Now through Oct. 22, survivors of domestic violence can participate in the Clothesline Project.
The Clothesline Project was founded in 1990 by Rachel Carey-Harper in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, according to a statement from Wallingford police.
The project’s goal is to educate the public about domestic violence through the personal experiences of survivors.
The police department’s Clothesline Project consists of white T-shirts with the stories of the survivors of domestic violence.
People who have experienced domestic violence can visit the police department, 135 N. Main St., and write their story on a T-shirt, which police provide along with markers.
The shirts will be hung outside along with the Silent Witness Initiative, a community-based exhibit to be installed on the front lawn of the police department on Monday.
The Silent Witness Initiative started in 1990 to promote, educate and garner support to end domestic violence.
The exhibit will be a visual representation of the 15 intimate partner homicide victims in Connecticut in 2019, consisting of life-sized, red silhouettes of people. Each silhouette will have the name, date of death and town for each of the victims.
Along with the names will be facts and statistics related to domestic violence, and how COVID-19 has affected domestic violence victims. The Silent Witness Initiative will remain on the front lawn of the police Department through Oct. 24.
Lyman Hall High School woodworking students from William Rich’s class are creating the silhouettes.
Survivors also can contact Meriden-Wallingford Chrysalis to write on a T-shirt, 203-630-1638.
Boyle said that as of Tuesday, the police department has collected only one T-shirt, “which was expected.”
“I expected survivors to not be 100 percent comfortable coming to the police department to fill out a T-shirt,” she said, “but Meriden-Wallingford Chrysalis has been collecting T-shirts for us and working with their survivors.”
She said she plans to pick up the T-shirt from Chrysalis later this week.
In addition to the Clothesline Project and Silent Witness Initiative, officers are wearing purple ribbon pins on their uniforms to show support to the victims and survivors of domestic violence, and school resource officers are planning a presentation on violence in teen dating for students at Lyman Hall and Sheehan high schools.
The police department has scheduled a general information session with the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Meriden-Wallingford Chrysalis from noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 20 at the Wallingford Senior Center, 238 Washington St.
The session covers the cycle of violence, the types of abuse that are seen in domestic violence, how the police can help, where and how to get a restraining order and how to contact an advocate.
Advocates from Chrysalis will be there to assist any victim who wishes to speak to them and provide them with their service options. Refreshments will be provided by Nardelli’s of Wallingford.
An informational session in Spanish with the same information is scheduled for noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 21 at the Spanish Community of Wallingford, 284 Washington St. presented by Officer Alexis Torres, one of Wallingford’s Spanish-speaking officers.
There will also be Spanish-speaking advocates available for any victim who wishes to speak to them and refreshments by Nardelli’s.
The T-shirts and markers for the Clothesline Project will be available at the information sessions, Boyle said.
A community candlelight vigil is scheduled for 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 22 on the front lawn of the Wallingford Police Department to remember those who have lost their lives to domestic violence, celebrate the survivors and provide advice to victims.
After the vigil, participants are encouraged to take a look at the Silent Witness Initiative and the Clothesline Project.
Chrysalis will also be at the vigil to provide information on their services and provide support. The rain date is Oct. 23.
Contact Boyle with questions on domestic violence month events at 203-294-2823 or firstname.lastname@example.org.