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HomeLife In the Berkshires'No Visible Bruises'...

‘No Visible Bruises’ presentation to highlight the prevalence of violence against women

The book is ultimately a manifesto that turns a regressive notion about the causes of domestic violence on its head by illustrating domestic violence as a public health problem with solutions.

Pittsfield — Award-winning journalist and author Rachel Louise Snyder penned the book “No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us” as a roadmap for creating systemic change in how to address the issue of domestic violence. Snyder’s thoroughly reported book, named among The 10 Best Books of 2019 by the New York Times, covers what the World Health Organization has called “a global health problem of epidemic proportions.” Global data on the prevalence of violence against women reveals that one-third of all women will experience either intimate partner or non-partner violence, with intimate partner violence being the most common type of violence against women. Snyder will present at the Colonial Theatre Thursday, Feb. 6, at 5:30 p.m.; the presentation, part of the Berkshire Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force’s “One Book, One Community” project, is free and open to the public.

“This book challenges the notion that victims are to blame,” said District Attorney Andrea Harrington, citing that Snyder does so in “an amazing and powerful way.” In October, the Berkshire Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force and the Elizabeth Freeman Center partnered with area businesses and nonprofits on a community book read; since that time, more than 30 groups from throughout Berkshire County have read and discussed Snyder’s book, in which she determines proven strategies to address the issue, as a means of shedding light on the depth and complexity of domestic violence, which, the Elizabeth Freeman Center emphasizes on its website, is not just a “big city” problem. Berkshire County has a rate of restraining orders 33% higher than the state average. Furthermore, a state study of Massachusetts high school students (2005 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey, conducted by the Massachusetts Department of Education) found that youth in rural areas like ours suffer violence at higher rates than students in urban and suburban areas, with 31.5% vs. 21.6% reporting having been bullied at school, 11.9% vs. 10.5% reporting dating violence, and 12.5% vs. 10.3% reporting sexual contact against their will. It found that students who experienced dating violence or coerced sexual contact were two to three times more likely to report considering or attempting suicide, getting pregnant or getting someone pregnant, and more likely to fail in school.

Snyder’s book presents a clear plan for systemic change to effectively end domestic violence through riveting case studies and analyzing best practices. The book is ultimately a manifesto that turns a regressive notion about the causes of domestic violence on its head by illustrating domestic violence as a public health problem with solutions. It also extends an invitation to all readers to engage in a conversation that must extend beyond the month of October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month. In addition to the numerous community groups that hosted discussions about the book last fall (including Berkshire Community College Women’s Center; Boys & Girls Club of the Berkshires; Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity; Working Cities; Young Parent Support Program of 18 Degrees; MassHire; Men Initiating Change; NAACP; Community Health Programs in Great Barrington; Greylock Together; Berkshire Business and Professional Women; and the Berkshire District Attorney’s Office), the Berkshire County Superintendents’ Roundtable purchased a copy of Snyder’s book for every high school.

“We are grateful to our community partners for supporting the work of our Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force to change regressive attitudes surrounding domestic violence and advocate for systemic change,” said Harrington. The task force, formed earlier this year under the auspices of the DA’s office, is comprised of experts in various related fields — from health care to police to schools to government — representing the entire geographic span of Berkshire County, and focused on ending domestic and sexual violence in the Berkshires. Greylock Federal Credit Union was responsible for underwriting the purchase of books to distribute to community members; the Bookstore in Lenox and the Bookloft in Great Barrington donated a percentage of the proceeds from October sales to the Elizabeth Freeman Center. Efforts throughout the county raised more than $2,000 for the Elizabeth Freeman Center and more than $25,000 in cash and in-kind donations for the Feb. 6 event.

First responders, health providers and educators will receive continuing education credits for attending; 18 Degrees is providing childcare and the Berkshire Immigrant Center is providing Spanish and ALS interpretation. The doors open at 5 p.m. and the presentation will start at 5:30 p.m. Please RSVP through the Eventbrite link here. A reception and book signing will follow with catering from nAtURAlly. The Berkshire Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force organized the event. Greylock Federal Credit Union, Williams College, the Berkshire Eagle, Elizabeth Freeman Center, Berkshire District Attorney’s Office, Berkshire Health Systems, Berkshire Theatre Group, MountainOne, Berkshire Community College, Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, A-List Luxury Car Services, 18 Degrees, the Berkshire Immigrant Center, Beacon Cinema, Images Cinema, Triplex Cinema, and Hotel on North are sponsoring the presentation.

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