Local elected officials, law enforcement and advocates gathered on the steps of New Bedford City Hall Thursday evening for an annual tree lighting ceremony in honor of domestic violence awareness. 

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and the New Bedford Women's Center annually holds the tree lighting ceremony along with a candlelight vigil later in the month as a sign of support for victims and survivors of domestic violence.

Law enforcement officials shared a common message during the ceremony, acknowledging the importance of educating youth in order to break the cycle.

Bristol County District Attorney Thomas Quinn III noted the importance of his office's persecution of offenders on behalf of vulnerable victims.

"What's gonna happen when children watch it? What do you think's gonna happen?" Quinn asked. "They're going to be abusers of the future or their going to be hurt and I don't want to see that. I have a very soft spot for people who are subject to that and see it because it's not their fault."

New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro added that it's up to parents to teach their children about healthy relationship.

"Show them that conflict can and must be resolved by communication and not by fists," Cordeiro said. "Love has no place for power and control...love is kind, it is tolerant, it is patient, it is forgiving."

Cordeiro also reminded the public that it is their duty to report any crimes they see, including domestic violence.

Pamela MacLeod-Lima, executive director of the Women's Center, said it takes a community to help put an end to domestic violence.

"It's a war that happens inside but has outside solutions," MacLeod-Lima said.

For more information on the Women's Center and the services they provide, visit www.thewomenscentersc.com.

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