Some of the 45 Finding Our Voices photo portraits of survivors on display through May at the Freeport Community Library and throughout the downtown held up by those who put them up! Front, from left, Faith Meyer, Lora Smith, Henry Kilborn, Nicole Carey, and Patrisha McLean. Back, Bethany Perkins, Oakley Candura, Mary Lou Smith, Delia Kilborn, Molly Carey-Knight, Courtney Sparks, and Meghan Fogg. (Courtesy of Finding Our Voices)

FREEPORT – Eight Maine survivors aged 18 to 83 will lead a community conversation about domestic abuse at the Freeport Community Library on Wednesday, May 10, starting at 5:30 p.m.

The Finding Our Voices program includes powerful short films on coercive control, and the impact on children. Survivors leading the conversation include teenager Riley Kennedy, Miss Maine Princess International 2023, who was abused by her father and then a boyfriend. The two-hour event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be served. 

In support of Finding Our Voices coming to Freeport,  the town council unanimously voted to designate May as “Freeport Breaks the Silence of Domestic Abuse Month.” Council member John Egan said, “The entire community has a responsibility to end the cycle and call out incidents instead of looking the other way.”

The backdrop for the library presentation is an exhibit of black and white photo portraits of 45 Maine survivors including Gov. Janet T. Mills. The portraits which were taken by Finding Our Voices President and Founder Patrisha McLean are displayed as posters which are also throughout downtown Freeport through May. They are the most visible campaign of the survivor-powered grassroots nonprofit that alerts everyone in Maine to the complexity and ubiquity of domestic abuse, gives a hand up to those still trapped, and paves the way for systemic change.

On April 26, students, volunteers and survivors papered the windows, bathrooms and changing rooms of 40 Freeport businesses and churches with posters in three sizes as well as bookmarks which are scaled down versions of the posters. There were many illuminating and emotional conversations with store managers, employees, and customers, along the way.

“I am so grateful to the Freeport community for amplifying survivor voices in such a big and beautiful way,” said McLean. She added that Library Director Courtney Sparks, Adult Services Librarian Meghan Fogg, and Adult Services Assistant Librarian Andrew Hutchinson are “going above and beyond to make us feel welcome, and engage as many people in the community as possible.”

Business sponsors for the May program include FOILED, British Goods, Harraseeket Inn, Bow Street Market, Baker Newman Noyes, Brickyard Hollow, Buck’s Naked BBQ, Wildflower and Brewster House B&B.