Maryland communities ‘shatter the silence’ of domestic violence


UPPER MARLBORO, MD. (Eagle News) — For several years now, every October, a group of law enforcers in Maryland gathers members of the community for an awareness walk to battle domestic violence.

Dubbed ‘Shatter the Silence,’ this annual walk reaches out to victims of violence at home by letting them know help is available to them.

All they need to do is come forward and speak up.

“Domestic violence touches every one’s lives. It does not discriminate– age, gender, nationality, socio-economic status. It does not matter. Domestic violence and sexual assault is an epidemic in our community and we have to stop it. So as a part of law enforcement, in a non-enforcement capacity, we felt that it was important to show our community the support that they need and we collaborated with the hospital and churches and as a result of that we have a group of people coming together to show their support to survivors,” said Vereen Barton, Prince George’s County Division of the Maryland-National Capital Park Police.

“This event is very close to my heart. It’s exactly what our shirt says, “Shatter the Silence.” Domestic violence is something people are ashamed of and don’t want to talk about is very prevalent in our community and we want to have a safe place here where we have resources, where you can come and you can get help. You have people here who have been directly impacted and indirectly impacted and people who just want to be here for you and support the cause,” said Lakeisha Robinson, Prince George’s County Division, Maryland-National Capital Park Police.

“Maryland is one of the higher-ranking states for domestic violence for men and women and we take it very seriously,” said Capt. Nicole Adams, Montgomery County Park Police.

“Because a lot of people think that they have to be silent about things that happen. Not only domestic violence but sexual assault as well. This is Shatter the Silence to get rid of the stigma that people think are attached to these two.  We want people to come forward. We want people to be safe. And that’s what this is about,” said Capt. Yasmin Brown, Prince George’s County Division of the Maryland-National Capital Park Police. “As law enforcement officers, as females, we want them to know that it’s not a division. We want to be there to help them and we want to be a part of everything and we understand, and we sympathize.”

“It brings awareness to all the people who were here and all the people who are paying attention to this. And that makes them a little more interested in getting involved and being aware of things that are going on maybe helping people out.” said Cheryl Banks of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center, University of Maryland.

It also helps people be aware of services that are available to them here in the county. Ours is one, we are hospital-based sexual assault center and so we are able to provide services from the hospital. but there are other organizations as well and makes people more aware of these services around them,” said Banks.

“When we talk about domestic violence, we’re really talking about intimate partner. We’re talking about relationships, children are involved, and so we are affecting multi-generations a lot of times when these occur,” said Donna Melynda Clarke of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Center, University of Maryland.  “And I believe personally from my perspective it’s so important now that I know and witnessed it myself by working with this wonderful organization, working with our partners, I’m now able to tell other generations, my sons who are now men in relationships, we can tell our children what to look for in a healthy relationship.”

“When we learned about this activity sponsored by the National Park Police, it encouraged us to extend help, at least to raise awareness concerning this issue because we know this is a very delicate issue especially here in this part of the world, said Brother Matt Karl Talens, a minister of the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church of Christ).  “At least the brethren will be aware and it will encourage even other members of the community to join in and at least prevent things like this from happening. I have kids too. I don’t want them to be victims to these acts of violence. So the Church of Christ through the approval of our Executive Minister, Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, we were allowed to join such an activity.”

To shatter the silence of domestic violence, one needs to know there is support out there.

(Eagle News Service)