On Saturday afternoon, Patricia Cliggott stood on Beach Road in Vineyard Haven waving down cars. Behind her, dozens of men lined the seawall as cars honked and passengers waved as they passed by.
“I want more and more people to stand on this wall,” Ms. Cliggott said. “The big issue about domestic violence is that people don’t want to talk about it. I’m practically stopping traffic because I want to talk about it.”
For three hours on Saturday Ms. Cliggott joined Connect to End Violence staff, volunteers and Island men to participate in the annual seawall demonstration, which aims to raise awareness about violence against women.
The men held handwritten signs bearing pro-women messages as well as the names of women in their lives — friends, sisters, mothers, wives and daughters.
Three years ago, Connect volunteer Max Sherman started the event.
“I wanted an event that brought attention to [domestic violence] and that was a big statement,” he said. “The seawall protects the Island from the elements of bad weather and what if we stood up as good men who stand up against the elements of bad men towards women.”
The event aims to make the issue of domestic violence more visible, and also to support and encourage victims of violence to seek help. Statistics show that one in four women in Massachusetts will experience domestic violence.
“Men all have a woman in their life that they care about so they should care about violence,” said Connect staff member Heather Arpin.
“It’s a hard thing to be on the forefront of,” said Mr. Sherman. “There’s still this idea about men having to be strong and not show emotion, but slowly more and more people are realizing that if men show emotion and stand up for what they believe in, it will start changing.”
Throughout the afternoon men stopped by, made signs, bought T-shirts, grabbed a slice of pizza and joined the ranks. With the addition of members of the Sharks baseball team, some 35 men lined the seawall.
“My goal is 40!” said Ms. Cliggott.
“I’m on my lunch hour,” said Mike Perkalis as he arrived at the event. “I’ll stay for as long as I can, I just wanted to do something.”
With his daughter standing by his side, Mr. Perkalis held a sign in her honor.
“I have two daughters and two granddaughters and I don’t want to see them go through anything like that,” he said. “It’s time for guys to be real men.”