Sagadahoc County says 'No More' to domestic violence

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BATH — The Sagadahoc County district attorney’s office is joining the national No More campaign to end domestic violence.

“It’s a fairly recent national movement … a new attempt at getting the attention (toward) domestic violence and sexual assault,” Steve Edmondson, domestic violence investigator with the Sagadahoc DA’s office, said last week.

Edmondson represents that office on the Sagadahoc County Working Group on Family Violence, which has met for 12 years and supports local efforts to fight domestic violence and sexual assault. Membership comes from various fields: law enforcement, the United Way, sexual assault and domestic violence advocates, clergy and educators, and providers of social services.

The working group will use No More’s informational toolkit and symbol to support its campaign of getting people not only to understand domestic violence, but also to stand against it and report it.

The Sagadahoc County Board of Health, which is participating in the campaign, will use Bath’s cable access TV station to help get the word out. Marla Davis, the county’s health officer, will host a 30-minute program about the campaign, with representatives of the working group, that will air this fall.

Edmondson, who has been a domestic violence investigator for 11 years, said there was a 15 percent drop in domestic violence arrests in the county in the last five years compared to the previous five.

Greater public awareness has made a difference, he said, along with aggressive enforcement and prosecution of domestic violence cases.

“And we want to take that a step further,” Edmondson, who also spent 26 years with the Topsham Police Department, said. “… We’re an event-driven society. Whatever is the lead story on the six o’clock news is what people are talking about. And of course when there’s a domestic violence homicide, that’s front-page news, it’s the leading story. But within a few days, it’s no longer in the press and it leaves people’s consciousness.”

Edmondson said he tries to keep awareness of the issue in people’s minds, and hopes the campaign will urge people to report abuse if they see it. Many cases resulting in an arrest are reported by a third party, like a friend or co-worker, he said, which is critical when the abused is too scared or prevented in some other way from reporting it.

“We must rely on bystanders and other people to step up, and say ‘hey, this is going on, this needs to be looked into,'” Edmondson said. “It’s saved people’s lives; I swear it has.”

Log onto nomore.org for more information. The working group plans to create a Facebook page around the effort. Those with questions about domestic violence can reach Edmondson at 443-8204 ext. 348, New Hope for Women at 443-8898, or Family Crisis Services at 721-0199.

Alex Lear can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 113 or alear@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @learics.

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A Maine native and Colby College graduate, Alex has been covering coastal communities since 2001, and currently handles Bath, Topsham, Cumberland, and North Yarmouth. He and his wife, Lauren, live in the Portland area, and Alex recently released his third album of original music.