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Cheeseman says Day critic won't deter her work for domestic violence victims

They say, “No good deed goes unpunished.“

That was my reaction to David Collins’ Sept. 6 column, titled “Is Connecticut GOP Chairman J.R. Romano on a social media leash?”

The column began with the observation that the Republican Party state chairman has gone silent recently on social media. It then somehow veers into mischaracterizing my most recent and continuing efforts to fight domestic violence as “vague and unspecific.”

I should not have been surprised, since Collins reflexively labels anything Democrat/liberal as good and anything identified with Republican/conservative as bad.

I realize that having to write three columns per week is time consuming. It apparently prevented Collins from either contacting me for clarification or attending my joint press conference on Aug. 21 with the CEO of Safe Futures (formerly the Women’s Center of Southeastern Connecticut) at which I called for increased funding for domestic violence prevention services. This would have included additional monies for hotel stays, the need for which has exploded during the recent pandemic. I indicated that this pressing need had to be addressed in the special session. If that were not possible, I called on the governor’s office to release some of the then remaining $330 million in coronavirus relief funds for that purpose.

Although Collins was puzzled by my proposal, ironically, no one else — including The Day’s Editorial Board - had difficulty understanding it. In its Aug. 25 editorial, The Day listed my proposal among “some (state) matters that need immediate attention.

“One example that comes to mind is the proposal by Rep. Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme, to inject another $250,000 in state aid to organizations that deal with the victims of domestic violence, a scourge that has increased with the isolation and additional stress brought on by the pandemic and associated economic distress,” the editorial stated.

Perhaps Collins believes silence and passivity are more effective in addressing the spike in domestic violence. I certainly don’t. I have seen too many lives destroyed by partner violence and too many children emotionally and physically maimed for life to stand down. I have made fighting this scourge a focus of my legislative career. That’s why I was named among the First 100 by the Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence after being nominated for the honor by Safe Futures.

I continue to press my case for additional funds for organizations like Safe Futures, with ongoing conversations with legislative leaders in both parties and the governor’s office. I am proud that, as a result of the Aug. 21 press conference and subsequent media coverage, Safe Futures has received significant additional philanthropic support from both individuals and local corporations.

That money will improve – and even save – lives, making this entire initiative worth the bipartisan effort.

If the price of fighting for the victims of domestic violence and abuse and their families, as I have done throughout my legislative career, is to attract the obligatory David Collins’s attack, then so be it. I am proud to be an advocate for the voiceless and I will never stop fighting for them.

Holly Cheeseman, R-East Lyme, represents the 37th House District of East Lyme and Salem.

 

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