Newport Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano on Tuesday proclaimed October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The proclamation was announced in partnership with the Women’s Resource Center (WRC) of Newport and Bristol counties. 

Delivered on the steps of City Hall, the proclamation included a brief speaking program that involved Mayor Napolitano as well as Jessica Walsh, executive director of the WRC, and Ashley Bendiksen, a survivor and WRC board member. 

Jeanne-Marie Napolitano, Jessica Walsh

“It’s important that people know that this issue exists,” Napolitano said, urging others to be aware in order to lend a hand to neighbors and children who may be exposed to harm.

In 2020, the WRC served nearly 1,300 individuals from Newport and Bristol counties, and saw a 25% increase in demand for services over the course of the year. In addition, the agency provided housing for twice as many individuals and answered 50% more hotline calls compared to 2019.

“This proclamation is sending a message loud and clear saying domestic violence will not be tolerated in Newport – that all of us, as neighbors and as a community, will come together to prevent domestic violence for future generations,” Walsh said.

Ashley Bendiksen, Jeanne-Marie Napolitano, Jessica Walsh

Bendiksen, who shared her story as a survivor of domestic violence, outlined the impact of abuse on a person’s life. She expressed the need to increase awareness about the dynamics of abuse and support agencies serving survivors like the WRC. “They help survivors to rebuild the pieces of their life, and make the transition from victim to someone who can once again thrive,” Bendiksen said.

The official proclamation is a commitment to building a safe community, free from domestic violence. It honors the work of the WRC, and it calls upon all citizens to pronounce their opposition to domestic violence, be cognizant, and participate in the observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month this October.

Story and photos provided by Ashley Bendiksen, WRC Board Member

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