Partners for Peace leader Casey Faulkingham said, "We have a lot of people in this room with varying experiences and knowledge base of domestic abuse, and what we have are people who have been affected by abuse in one shape or form who are looking for more tools to be helpful."
Foregoing lecture-style meetings, the group took part in interactive discussions. They stood in a circle and listened to hypothetical situations between partners before, after processing the information, moved to corners of the room represented by signs saying, "abusive," "very abusive," and "not abusive." Volunteers from each corner then supported their reasoning.
Organizers say meeting with church leaders is especially important because people come to church for fulfillment, and they confide in the heads of their faiths. It is imperative, they say, to recognize when someone is a victim, and when their own faith is used against them in that abuse.
"It's an important conversation because victims of domestic violence may be faith-based, and their faith might not be part of the answer, and part of the resources that victims need when they reach out for help," said Alyson Morse Katzman. She is the associate director of the Safe Havens Interfaith Partnership to End Domestic Abuse and travels across the country helping to guide discussions.
The organizers hope by putting resources in front of the most trusted community leaders, they can find help for their flocks without hesitation.
"That's the most important thing," Katzman continued. "Because the faith communities can be experts in their faith, but the service providers are experts in domestic violence."
If you or someone you love is affected by domestic abuse, you can reach the Maine Coalition to End Domestic Violence 24 hours a day at 1-866-834-help.