The Boothbay Community Center is teaming with New Hope for Women in a program that assists female victims of domestic violence. Called “One less worry,” the program was started by Sharon Hobson and Rhonda Nordstrom of Rockland.
When victims make contact with New Hope for Women, they are given a purse filled with everyday necessities like a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, lotion, feminine products, candy, paper, envelopes, stamps and other needs.
The Community Center is helping the program by collecting the contributions of new and gently used purses as well as items for their contents. Jane Good, the center’s director, explained, “Some purses are filled with items when they are donated and others are filled by our volunteers before we give them to New Hope for Women.”
Although the purse program helps women, Sarah Sherman, legal advocate for New Hope for Women, explained that “About 15 percent of the time, men are victims. We provide help for men, women and children — any domestic violence victim.”
Sherman also pointed out the results of the violence. “It affects all socio-economic groups and is one of the leading causes of homelessness.”
The crimes of threatening, sexual and other assault, rape and stalking accounted for almost 25 percent of the crime reported in the 2015 Maine Crime Victimization Survey. Of these, 60 percent of respondents reported being threatened more than once; almost eight percent had been threatened “with a firearm present.”
The survey report states: “Among all respondents who had been threatened, assaulted, sexually assaulted, raped, and/or stalked, nearly one in five (18.0 percent) reported that the assailant was a dating partner or a family member.”
New Hope for Women provides free services including a 24-hour hotline that domestic violence victims can call at 1-800-522-3304. Asked when callers should use the hotline, Sherman gave some examples:
- Feeling afraid in your own home
- Feeling uncomfortable
- If you are hurt or being threatened
Those wishing to help may do so in a variety of ways. Purses and items to fill the purses can be brought to the Community Center. In addition to toiletries and other personal items, victims also need pre-paid gas cards and cards for groceries and for Walmart. Volunteers are needed to man the 24-hour hotline and more information can be obtained by contacting New Hope for Women’s non-emergency number at (207) 443-8898.
Sherman and Good said giving a domestic violence victim a purse is a way to let the victim know that they are not alone and that there is a community that is thinking of them. It may also be giving that person a new start.