Help us tell our collective story as a 50 year old domestic violence resource center.
Partners for Peace (formerly Spruce Run-Womancare Alliance) is celebrating 50 years of advocating on behalf of people affected by domestic violence in Penobscot and Piscataquis counties in Maine. Partners for Peace was the first domestic violence resource center established in Maine and the third in the entire country.
50 Years, 50 Stories
In honor of our 50 year history, we are gathering 50 stories from individuals and groups in our region to uplift the voices of those who have been affected by domestic violence and abuse. Our vision is that we’ll collect 50 diverse stories of people with lived experience in multiple formats: written stories, poetry, artwork, photography and more. Check out this story from WABI to learn more.
Individual stories will be shared anonymously or non-anonymously, depending on safety. We want to hear from folx who identify as victims, survivors, social justice warriors, surviving family and friends of domestic violence homicide victims, advocates, domestic violence movement pioneers, and anyone who has a story related to domestic violence to share.
Together, these 50 stories will create Our Collective Story Project which will be shared at our 50th Anniversary Event in October, as part of a gallery in a local art museum, in a virtual art gallery, and eventually in a published book.
Interested in Sharing Your Story?
If you have lived experience with domestic violence, we invite you to consider sharing your story through written format, artwork (which may be done in one of our story crafting workshops), song lyrics, or any other way you believe your story can be told. If you are sharing your story in written format and it is ready to go, you can submit it below. Otherwise, you can submit your interest in being a part of the project using the form below, participate in our story-crafting workshops, and work with our project coordinators to finalize your submission(s).
Stories will be accepted on a rolling basis until August 1, 2023.
Your name and willingness to participate in Our Collective Story Project will remain confidential if desired, but you will have the opportunity to share your name, have a professional portrait taken by Story Silo Media, and/or participate in a video interview if you feel empowered to do so.
Please note that due to the limitation of only accepting 50 stories, it is possible your story may not be included. We will do our best to include all the stories we receive.
1st Story-Crafting Work Shop:
Tuesday, May 9th, 5:30-7:30pm. Location: Bangor area, to be disclosed after registration.
Check out the event flyer for more details and sign up here.
Safety Planning & Risk Management
You may choose to share anonymously (or non-anonymously depending on your safety and comfort level). Stories will be shared at our 50th Anniversary Event in October, as part of a gallery in a local art museum, in a virtual art gallery, and eventually in a published book. Once your piece is a part of Our Collective Story Project, it will be possible to make edits to it up until the time it is made public in October 2023 at which time it will not be possible to remove it or make redactions.
If you need help with safety planning or emotional support in sharing your story, please call our 24-hour helpline at 1-800-863-9909. It’s free and confidential. You may also choose to attend one of our story-crafting workshops to get group support from other people with lived experiences who are a part of the Project. To sign up for a story-crafting workshop (online or in person), please submit an interest form and we will email you the details when they are available.
- Partners for Peace may choose to de-identify or change names in stories that may feature names of individuals.
- If you believe there are risks within sharing your story for our 50th anniversary event, having your story be anonymous would be the best option when sharing. If this is the route you’d like to take, be sure to make note of that at the top of your written story.
- As this is your story and experience, you have the agency to redact your story at any time BEFORE it is presented to the public starting on October 1, 2023.
If you find yourself struggling to begin your story, here are a few prompts to get you started:
- What did/does your experience with domestic violence look like?
- When did you experience domestic violence?
- What is important to you that people in the community know or understand about domestic violence?
If you would prefer to not discuss what specifically happened, think about these prompts instead:
- Who are you today after your experience with domestic violence?
- How might your life look different today if you were still experiencing domestic violence?
- How might your life look different today if you were not experiencing domestic violence?
- What would you tell your past self knowing what you know today? How would they react?
Our Collective Story Project Interest Form
If you have lived experience with domestic violence, we invite you to consider sharing your story through written format, artwork (which may be done in one of our story crafting workshops), song lyrics, or any other way you believe your story can be told. If you are sharing your story in written format and it is ready to go, you can submit it below. Otherwise, you can submit your interest in being a part of the project, participate in our story-crafting workshops, and work with our project coordinators to finalize your submission(s).
Below are two examples of survivor stories.
On a Monday evening Tessa’s husband Robert assaulted her. Just before the police arrived, Robert fled in Tessa’s truck. She was scared and didn’t want to stay at home without knowing if Robert would be arrested, so the officer brought Tessa to the police station to talk with her in a safe location and to connect her to Partners for Peace’s hotline. The officer made the initial call into the hotline and passed the phone to Tessa.
Tessa explained she was too scared to go back home so the hotline worker talked with her about Partners for Peace’s shelter. Tessa and the worker made a plan for her to stay in shelter temporarily. They also discussed a Protection from Abuse order (PFA) and how the court system and police could be a part of Tessa’s safety plan. The worker and Tessa also planned with the police so that she would know when Robert was arrested and when he was released. After one night in shelter Tessa knew that Robert was arrested and had not been released from jail. This gave her enough time to file a PFA and return to her home.
We worked together with the police and the court system to support Tessa and increase her safety. This type of community collaboration happens through Partners for Peace’s 24-hour hotline each week. It is the main way for community providers to connect, consult and work together in order to meet the needs of people affected by abuse in our community regardless of the time of day.
One Woman’s Story
I have heard hundreds of survivors share their stories during my years working on the hotline, going to court, and facilitating support groups. Their voices echo within me, becoming one story resounding with fear, anger, sadness, and hope:
He is jealous of everyone. I’m not allowed to go anywhere without asking permission and then he interrogates me when I return. He puts down all my friends. I can’t even visit my own mother without a hassle. He checks the mileage on my car. He hides my keys. He won’t let me drive. He makes me account for every penny I spend. If I go to the store, he times me. If I’m late, there’s hell to pay.
If I leave, he says he’ll kill himself. If I leave, he says he’ll kill me. If I leave, he’ll take the kids. If I leave, he’ll never let me alone. If I leave…If I leave…If I leave…
He doesn’t hit me that much. He throws things. My things. He smashes his fist through the kitchen cabinets. He pushes me out in the snow. When he hits me, he acts as if nothing happened. He’s always sorry and says it won’t happen again. He says if only I didn’t push his buttons, it wouldn’t happen at all.
He tells people I’m crazy. He tells people I cheat on him. He tells me no one will ever believe me. Everyone likes him. Everyone thinks he’s a good guy. I don’t have any friends anymore. My family says we should work it out. My family is sick of me leaving and going back.
He tells me no one will ever want me. He says I’m too stupid to work, too fat, too ugly, too skinny, too slutty. He tells me I can’t do anything right. I can’t do anything right.
I just want to take a walk or see a friend or read a book without him always there. I’m always walking on eggshells wondering what he’s going to do. I just want to be myself. I just want to breathe my own breath.
When I left, he followed me everywhere. He knows what I eat for breakfast, who I talk to, where I shop. I know he knows because he tells me. He leaves flowers in my car. He killed my cat and left it in the mailbox. He says he’ll do anything to get me back. Anything. He says if he can’t have me, nobody can.
The kids are all mixed up. They’re acting out at school. When they see him, he cries and says I don’t believe in marriage. He asks them what I’m doing, who I’m seeing. I wonder if it will ever end, if I’ll ever be rid of him. I’ve called the police when I see him passing by my house. They say they have to catch him in the act. They say I need a witness. I’m so tired of it all. I’m just so tired.
Some days I feel hopeful. I’m beginning to like being alone. I can talk to friends on the phone as long as I like. I’m looking for work and I’m taking a class. I’m not as dumb as he says. I’m really not. Sometimes I hear his voice in my head and it sets me back. I’ve got to work so hard to get out of bed. I’m trying to figure out who I am. Who I am without him. I know I’m someone. I know I am.
Andrea Itkin — New Hope for Women