- September 29, 2021
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“No one talks about domestic abuse, there is just a big silence around it,” said Patrisha McLean. “The problem is that makes women going through it feel like they’re alone.”
Patrisha McLean standing next to Finding Our Voice poster outside of Portland Pie Company in downtown Brunswick. C. Thacher Carter / The Times Record
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, Call New Hope for Women’s 24/7 Midcoast helpline at 1-800-522-3304 or the 24/7 Statewide Helpline at 1-866-834-4357.
Patrisha McLean said she was silent for 29 years in her dealings with domestic violence. Today, she has found her voice.
On Tuesday, McLean’s domestic violence awareness project, Finding Our Voices, came through downtown Brunswick, hanging posters in shop windows to break the silence that often surrounds the issue.
The organization was founded in February 2019. Over the last year and a half, the nonprofit has posted around 1,700 banners displaying the faces of 40-women, ages 18 to 81, who are survivors of domestic violence.
The project has visited around 40 communities in Maine, and McLean estimated that 40 posters will be hung in the windows of businesses between Brunswick and Topsham.
“No one talks about domestic abuse, there is just a big silence around it,” McLean said. “The problem is that makes women going through it feel like they’re alone.”
McLean was married to singer-songwriter Don McLean, known for his song “American Pie.” McLean left the singer in 2016, and he was charged with crimes related to domestic violence. Don McLean paid a $3,600 fine to dismiss the case as part of a plea agreement.
Today, Patrisha McLean says she openly talks about the marriage, she said, because it’s not her shame.
“It was 29 years of physical, emotional, sexual, financial abuse that started very quickly,” McLean said. “I was trapped.”
According to McLean, the purpose of the banners is to give a face to survivors, letting others that might be passing by know they are not alone. The posters get people talking and thinking about domestic violence, she said, which helps destigmatize the topic.
A Finding Our Voices banner in downtown Brunswick. C. Thacher Carter / The Times Record
In 2020, there were 135 reported domestic disputes in Brunswick, according to Brunswick Chief of Police Scott Stewart. In 2018, 132 were reported, and in 2019, 113.
According to the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence, advocates for the program worked with 12,516 people in 2020. A domestic violence assault is reported to law enforcement every 2 hours and 22 minutes in Maine, according to the coalition.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 10 million people are domestically abused in the United States each year. This includes one in four women, and one in seven men being victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Businesses in Brunswick that have hung the posters include J & J Cleaners, Starz Hair Studio, Portland Pie Company and Little Dog Coffee Shop.
“We have a lot of women that come into the salon, and I think that it’s important to support,” said Starz Hair Studio owner Laurie Demmons. “Just want to show that in the community we are all for that.”
Brunswick’s Portland Pie Company General Manager Frank Gioffre said that stopping and preventing domestic abuse was a cause that he had no problem getting behind.
“If you can help at least one person with it, then it’s worth doing,” said Gioffre.
Finding Our Voices also offers peer-to-peer educational tools, an online book club about domestic abuse, private support groups and other services to helps women escape abusive relationships.
For more information, visit findingourvoices.net.
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