Anyone strolling down Cabot Street in Beverly this month might notice a special decoration outside of City Hall.
It's not a jack-o-lantern or a ghost, a pumpkin, or any of the other kind of decorations one might expect to see in October. It's a teardrop display, and it's not being put in place to celebrate the paranormal but rather to raise awareness of a very real issue that is no less scary than a monster to a child for anyone who has experienced it.
For all of the good associated with this time of year - pumpkin beer, football, beautiful foliage, the coming of the holiday season - October is also National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
In an effort to raise awareness, educate citizens and inspire action, the Beverly Police Department Domestic Violence Unit will host several campaigns around the city throughout the month, starting with the unveiling of the teardrop display at City Hall. Each teardrop will represent a person that was served by the domestic violence unit over the past year.
Mayor Bill Scanlon kick-off the month-long campaign at the teardrop event Friday at City Hall by reading the city's domestic violence free zone proclamation, and a table will be set up to provide information, resources and support.
Beverly's Police cruisers have already had antennas outfitted with purple ribbons to show support to victims and survivors of domestic violence. Department spokesman Dave Costa said in a statement that the ribbons are not only meant to raise awareness, but to "send a loud and clear message to perpetrators that any form of violence will not be tolerated within our community."
Community members are encouraged to show their support by displaying purple pins and ribbons on their cars and homes, and also to purchase purple light bulbs to display on porches and in windows as part of the city's "Light Up the Night with Purple Lights" effort.
"The goal is to bring awareness and support to victims and survivors of domestic violence, and to send a powerful message that there is no place for domestic violence in the homes, neighborhoods, workplaces or schools of our citizens," Costa said in a statement.
At noon on Monday, Oct. 22, Beverly Common will receive a tribute of its own, this one of free-standing, life-size wooden silhouettes painted in red, each one bearing the name of a Massachusetts victim who once lived, worked, had neighbors, friends, or family members whose life ended violently at the hands of an intimate partner or acquaintance. An extra figure will be on display to represent those uncounted victims whose murders went unsolved or were erroneously ruled accidental. The story of each of the victims will be told, followed by a moment of silence to honor their memories.
Those silhouettes will then greet at the finish line the participants of the first annual Beverly Domestic Violence Unit 4-mile Run on Saturday, Oct. 27, which will begin and end at West Beach.
Other awareness activities throughout the month include a Purple Shirt Day throughout Beverly Public Schools on Wednesday, Oct. 17, and a Purple Ribbon/Hat Day in schools on Friday, Oct. 19, as well as community outreach programs at different locations throughout the city.
For more information, or to register to run, volunteer or sponsor the Domestic Violence Unit 4-mile Run, visit the DVU 4-mile blog or Facebook Page. A calendar of domestic violence awareness events can be found here.
Ryan Mooney can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @mooney_ryan.