By Laura Hayes, Senior Community Reporter
SHREWSBURY – A chime rang out across Shrewsbury Town Common on Oct. 13 as residents and local and state leaders held a vigil for victims of domestic violence.
“One of the most important things that we can do is to make sure that the people in our community who are in a violent relationship … that they know there is help and there is a way to get out of that cycle of violence,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito.
As of the vigil, Shrewsbury Detective Sergeant Michael Cappucci said police responded to 331 calls relating to domestic violence since the beginning of the year. He suspected that the number might be higher because it does not include calls for rape or strangulation.
The recent vigil was hosted by the Against Domestic Violence in Shrewsbury Education (ADVISE) project, which was founded over 30 years ago.
ADVISE’s work has ranged from accompanying Shrewsbury police officers on domestic violence calls to helping survivors navigate the court system.
Domestic violence was considered a private family issue. Victims weren’t believed and blamed for what happened to them, ADVISE members note. Now, there’s a victim advocate at the courthouse and a liaison at the police department.
Despite the progress, ADVISE co-chair Julie Nason said there are still stories in the news about intimate partner violence.
“That’s why we’re here, 31 years later, because it’s more important than ever to talk about domestic violence in the public sphere to break the silence…,” Nason said.
Remembering the victims
Eleven people, including 10 women and one man, had been killed by a spouse, intimate partner or family member since January of 2021 as of Oct. 13 in Massachusetts, according to Nason.
ADVISE members shared their stories, lighting a candle and ringing a chime for each of those eleven individuals.
One of those candles was for Saharbanoo Rindani, 76, of Westborough, who was found dead in her home in March. Her husband, Abdal Rindani, was later charged with attempted murder and strangulation.
Rep. Hannah Kane (R-Shrewsbury) said that, listening to the names, she counted about 20 children left without their parents after witnessing violence.
Legislators have been worried about the mandated abuse reports not being reported and people not being able to see each other and realize something may be wrong, Kane said.
“I want to make sure each and every one of us takes back with us the responsibility to look every single person in the eye that we know, to look for whether or not there might be some sort of trauma going on in their life,” Kane said.
‘Everyone has a voice’
Victims can be helped by respecting them by listening to them, supporting and not judging them, ADVISE representatives said.
“Preventing domestic violence starts at the granular level of our own hearts and minds, one interaction at a time done with honor and respect,” Nason said.
Perpetrators can be held accountable by calling out disrespectful language and behavior, she added.
Nason said that individuals should share stories about behavior they may regret, including times they stood by and didn’t respond to issues in front of them. That can inspire others to act differently, she said.
“Everyone has a voice, a role, is part of the conversation about domestic violence,” Nason said. “It’s up to you and me how we use it.”