By John Swinconeck, Contributing Writer
Shrewsbury – A small crowd gathered on the lawn of Shrewsbury Town Common Oct. 16, lit candles, and said prayers for those who could not speak out for themselves, as a drum beat quietly but steadily. This was the third annual vigil honoring victims and survivors of domestic violence.
The vigil was organized by the Against Domestic Violence in Shrewsbury Education project (ADVISE) and Saheli, an organization that supports South Asian women and families in Massachusetts.
The vigil takes place in October to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month, according to Joanne Tyndall, ADVISE co-chair.
It began in a response to the 2010 death of Maureen Rosiello, a Shrewsbury mother of two, explained Julie Ingersoll, who co-chairs ADVISE with Tyndall.
“We always ask ourselves in church, ‘who is our neighbor?’ She was our neighbor, who was beaten to death at home,” Ingersoll said. “We think it's important to break the silence.”
Ingersoll told those who had gathered: “We’re here tonight because we refuse to be silent and to hold domestic violence perpetrators accountable. You can make a difference one heart at a time.”
Speaking shortly before the vigil started, Tyndall said domestic violence is often considered an invisible problem. “It happens frequently, but not a lot of people are aware of it,” she said, adding that many believe it was something that “couldn’t happen here.”
The vigil, Tyndall said, is “a way of speaking out for people who have been victimized during the year.”
ADVISE also offers a help line that will help victims get in touch with the right agency or service, Tyndall said.
Members of the community, including law enforcement and local government officials were on hand during the vigil. So was First Assistant District Attorney Edward N. Karcasinas Jr.
“It's important to enlist the community to educate and prevent domestic violence, It's important we train people not to be bystanders,” said Karcasinas, speaking after the vigil. “What we see is [domestic violence] cuts across all boundaries, all communities, rich and poor. That's why it's important to focus our efforts on prevention.”
During the vigil, 15 special candles were lit and a bell chimed 15 times, signifying the 15 men and women aged 19 to 71 who died in Massachusetts as a result of domestic violence.
Domestic abuse is not limited to physical violence, and can take many forms, including verbal abuse, isolation, and harassment, among others, according to ADVISE. According to the group, Shrewsbury Police receive one domestic-related call per day.
During the first year the vigil was held, the number of deaths due to domestic violence was 55. While there is a sharp decrease this year in comparison, the number of victims is still too high, Tyndall said.
“One is too many,” she said.
The ADVISE helpline is 508-842-0056.