AMESBURY — The Amesbury Friends Peace Center opens its year-long series, “Building Peace in a Culture of Violence,” with the powerful session “New Perspectives on Domestic Violence: A Community’s Response to Tragedy,” Sunday, Sept. 29, at 2 p.m. in the Amesbury Friends Meetinghouse, 120 Friend St.
The program will feature talks by Suzanne C. Dubus, chief executive officer of the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center, and Det. Robert Wile of the Amesbury Police Department. There will be ample time for questions from the audience. All are welcome. Admission is free. Refreshments will be served.
Dubus and Wile will discuss the tragic murder of Amesbury resident Dorothy Giunta-Cotter by her husband in March of 2002 that led members of the Jeanne Geiger Crisis Center to join with local police departments, hospitals, state legislatures and the courts to create the Domestic Violence High Risk Team. This innovative approach to domestic violence prevention has been very effective; since 2005 there has not been one domestic violence death in the area served by this program compared with more than 200 such deaths in the state of Massachusetts during the same period. Its success has been attested to by various awards, coverage in The New Yorker, and other publications and formal recognition by the White House. As a result, similar programs are being implemented across the U.S.
The Peace Center’s series of programs, “Building Peace in a Culture of Violence,” reflects its members’ concern with the epidemic of violence that is apparent in many areas of American society — deaths by guns; bullying at school, in the workplace, and at home; violence in the movies, on TV and in video games among others. The United States has more guns, more gun-related deaths, more incarcerated individuals on a per capita basis than any other developed country in the world. It is also by far the leading manufacturer and seller of guns and other weapons in the world.
The goal of the year-long series is to examine various forms of violence, the culture that sustains it and to seek ways to diminish it. It is meant to bring together concerned individuals of all positions to listen to each other, to respectfully exchange ideas and to seek ways to minimize violence in all of its manifestations.
On Nov. 10, U.S. Rep. John Tierney, D-Salem, will speak about gun safety issues and his bill to support the study of electronic safety triggers for all guns. In addition, there will be a screening of the film “The Interrupters,” which tells the story of how ex-gang members in central Chicago volunteered to work together to intervene in situations of potential violence there and thus reduce it. There will also be a presentation of an “Alternatives To Violence program” that has been centered in state prisons and a discussion of the book by Dr. James Gilligan, “Violence, Reflections on a National Epidemic,” and a statistical comparison of various forms of violence in the United States and in the other developed countries of the world.