31 Oct 2017


In his 1972 hit single, “Lean On Me,” Bill Withers reminds us how important it is to help out our fellow man (or woman, or child). “Sometimes in our lives we all have pain, we all have sorrow,” he croons, as a stark reminder that sooner or later we all go through something. He goes on to offer the prescription for these seasons of distress singing, “Lean on me, when you’re not strong and I’ll be your friend…for it won’t be long ’til I’m gonna need somebody to lean on.”
Walk along the sandy beaches or stroll up the charming cobblestone streets of Nantucket and it’s hard to imagine that just beyond the magical scenery…literally just through the gate of the proverbial white picket fence…there exists pain, suffering, sorrow and even violence. But, let’s face it, the island is a diverse vibrant community of almost 15,000 year-round residents. And where there are human beings, there is human “stuff”…good, bad and sometimes ugly. One need only peruse the local court docket, published weekly in the Inky Mirror, to verify it’s not always sunshine and climbing roses on our little island paradise.
October is Domestic Violence month and believe it or not, one of the most prolific activities filling the local crime report is this one. Behind the walls of some of our charming cottages, women, children and even men are suffering fear, abuse and physical assault at the hands of a family member. The shoes in the photo above were part of a 2-day display on the steps of the Pacific National Bank created by Nantucket’s local domestic violence organization, A Safe Place. The shoes represent the number of people who died from domestic abuse injuries in the State of Massachusetts in the past year. It was not a “feel good” display that many other non-profit organizations are able to showcase. It is, after all, not a “feel good” topic. It’s messy and depressing and we wish we didn’t have to know about it. But, if we don’t know, we can’t help. And if we don’t help, the abuse continues and next year there will be more shoes on our bank steps.
There is some good news in the midst of the strife. Nantucket is fortunate to have an organization like A Safe Place whose staff are trained in a variety of areas that assist victims and their families. They work out of a humble facility, rely heavily on volunteers and donations to assist with their many programs, operate a 24-hour hotline and most importantly their services are FREE and confidential to the victims and families they serve. Knowing they have a number to call, a place to go to and people ready and willing to assist, gives victims the courage and confidence they need to report the abuse. This all important first step is often the biggest step in stopping the abuse.
This fall and winter as you enjoy the beauty, charm and peace that Nantucket is famous for, be reminded that many in our midst have no peace. Consider volunteering or donating to A Safe Place…and ask your friends to do the same. Together we can offer one another “somebody to lean on” and work together to end domestic violence on our island.
Step up.
Shellie Dunlap
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