Hundreds of men stepped into their high heels to participate in the Walk A Mile In Her Shoes march on Thursday night. Although it was not the most graceful of miles, it raised some big money to support the Elizabeth Freeman Center.
Domestic and sexual violence has hit a "crisis level" according to District Attorney Andrea Harrington.
On Tuesday, she announced a new countywide Berkshire Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force that will focus on curbing what is now growing numbers of sexual and domestic violence cases. The task force will focus on outreach, securing new resources, and providing education and training throughout the Berkshires in an effort to prevent such crimes from happening.
There were 345 flags in Park Square on Thursday, with each one representing a new local victim of domestic and sexual violence.
The Elizabeth Freeman Center placed one flag per new disclosure of sexual or domestic violence in 2018. The flags, coupled with a rally in the city's center, were intended to demonstrate the issue and the services the center provides.
The most visible of the efforts made since March is the formation of Men Initiating Change In North County (MIC INC), a group founded by North Adams City Councilor Benjamin Lamb that aims to fill a "gap in the ecosystem" of support for victims of relational violence.
Elizabeth Freeman Center Executive Director Janis Broderick welcomed all the walkers who came out during the event at Third Thursday, including elected officials, business leaders, residents from throughout the county and all those who demand change.
The Freeman Center offers 24-hour support for these victims - mostly women but a small percentage of men, as well, around 2,000 every year from all towns, races and ages — from a telephone hotline (866-401-2425), offices in Pittsfield, North Adams and Great Barrington, and a secure shelter in Pittsfield.
Harpin and Lamb submitted a communication asking that the council work with the mayor's office and community partners to create "a multipronged approach" to the issue of domestic violence within the community.