By Josiah Brown
At the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Sound of Hope event is held each October by Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven to remember all those who lost their lives to this problem statewide over the prior year, as well as others harmed by its reach. The occasion aims to raise public consciousness about domestic abuse and to galvanize support for public, private, and nonprofit measures to halt this sadly common injustice. Concerned citizens gather by the harbor of Long Island Sound to hear the names of those who died and to cast flowers into the water in their memory, as solemn bagpipe music honors them and the cause of ensuring that their deaths help drive corrective action.
Yale University Chaplain Sharon Kugler gave the invocation at this year’s event, which took place Oct. 2., and Rev. Bonita Grubbs of Christian Community Action the benediction. In between, the following speakers each made brief remarks:
- April Capone Almon, Mayor of East Haven;
- Agnes Maldonado, of the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence;
- Burton Weinstein, Esq., the attorney for Tracey Thurman, whose landmark legal suit in the 1980s helped propel the movement against domestic violence across Connecticut and the nation through the Family Violence Prevention and Response Act of 1986 ;
- Sandra Koorejian, Executive Director of DVSGNH; and
- Erika Tindill, Co-President of DVSGNH and Deputy Director of the New Haven Legal Assistance Association.
Especially moving were the comments of two survivors of domestic violence, Augustina Chima and Louise Hebert, who spoke with passion about what they and their children have overcome through courage and the support of family, friends, counseling, advocates, and law enforcement professionals. Ms. Chima and Ms. Hebert, separately and stirringly, offered the “hope” promised by this event’s title, on a gorgeous day by the water.
Also acknowledged was the City of New Haven’s interest in provision of domestic violence services, particularly in light of the recent passing of Police Sergeant Dario Aponte and the critical injury to Officer Diane Gonzalez, both of whom were rushing to respond to a report of a domestic incident. Mayor JohnDeStefano and members of his administration, including Robert Smuts and Kica Matos, are working with community providers on related challenges in a climate of tight budgets, lean staffing, and heightened socio-economic pressures that can add to caseloads.
With public funding from federal, state, and local sources under strain, the role of private philanthropic support is ever important.
DVSGNH offers free, confidential services including a shelter for women and children, emergency hotline, court-based advocacy, counseling, transitional housing, and preventive public awareness. Connecticut’s 24-hour toll-free DV hotline is 888-774-2900.
Josiah Brown is Volunteer Co-President (with Erika Tindill) Domestic Violence Services of Greater New Haven