The Saipan community came together Saturday at the Garapan Fishing Base for the 2019 Day of Unity, to spread awareness of domestic violence in the CNMI, as part of the observance of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
The event was organized by Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence as a way for the community to stand together to help all domestic violence survivors and victims, who may not feel that they can access services provided for them.
“Survivors, victims of domestic violence, need us to all be on the same page about the issue,” said NMCADSV executive director Maisie B. Tenorio. “We want to gather the community to provide that education about domestic violence and make sure that we’re all on the same page, because I don’t think anybody out there will say domestic violence is a good thing, or we want domestic violence to continue.”
Last year, the Office of the Attorney General prosecuted 73 cases of domestic violence. This was on top of the 239 calls received by the Department of Public Safety regarding domestic abuse.
The Day of Unity gathered service providers in the community, such as the Women’s Affairs Office, CNMI Youth Affairs, Garrett Lee Smith Suicide Prevention Program, Joeten-Kiyu Public Library, among others, to make information about their services accessible to the public.
Tenorio said that NMCADSV wants to make sure that all survivors will know that support is there for them.
“Survivors who may have disabilities, survivors who may not speak English, survivors who may have immigrated here, who maybe don’t have status, we want to make sure that we are reaching out to everyone, and they know that all of these people [service providers] are united for their safety, and [are available] to help them.”
The Day of Unity also served as a venue for the community to bring positivity to survivors. With “Survivor Strong” as the theme, this year’s campaign focused on shining a light on survivors, men or women, who have experienced domestic violence, or who are living with domestic violence.
“This year’s campaign is to let survivors know that we believe in them, we see them, we know the struggles, we know that it takes a lot of strength to live a life of domestic violence, that we’re here for them to celebrate that strength that they have,” Tenorio added.
For more information about supporting survivors, call the Northern Marianas Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence at 234-3878, the Family Violence Task Force at 664-4584, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline website at thehotline.org.