Few crimes hit a community harder than domestic violence homicides, as relatives, friends and neighbors are left to grieve the loss of a life that was taken by a person who professed to love the victim.

The feeling of loss is worse still when the life lost was that of a child, as one memorial demonstrated to passers-by Friday, Oct. 8.

Each year, New Hope for Women assembles a memorial to local women who died at the hands of their husbands or domestic partners called “An Empty Place at the Table.” Its aim, said New Hope community educator Ellie Hutchinson, is to show the community how much is lost every time a person dies as the result of domestic violence, and to get people who see the memorial to talk about it.

“We had a lot of good conversations with people,” said Hutchinson of the memorial, which was set up at the Belfast Free Library Friday, Oct. 8. “People seemed to be happy that we were there, and many people said thank you.”

Traditionally, a table with five unique place settings shines light on the lives of four area women who died because they were in the process of leaving their abusive partners. The memorial is known for its silent but powerful presence, and this year, the table had an addition that made it that much more emotional for those who viewed it.

New to the memorial is a high chair contributed by relatives of Ava Renae Gushee of Rockland, who was 9 weeks old when she died in August 2008.

“Of course, having a baby there at the table adds a whole different dimension to it,” said Hutchinson. “It seemed as though a lot of people stopped, looked, saw the high chair and had a visible reaction to it.”

Ava’s place setting included a pastel-colored placemat with her name lovingly written at the top center. A photograph of the infant graced the place setting, and a frilly headband with a bow lay over the frame.

“We had a couple of people who really got teary when they saw it. It was very emotional,” said Hutchinson.

The table is set with items that are provided by victims’ families. The items either belonged to each victim, or were selected by their loved ones to reflect their personalities.

Brenda Gray Knost, 38, of Swanville died after her partner shot her at her home July 1, 2001. Her place setting had a white and gold plate and a description of all she left behind when she was killed, including her daughter, Crystal, then 11 years old.

Kimberly “Kym” Sue Palmer, 29, of Camden died at the hands of her abuser in December 2000. Her place at the table displayed a plate that was surrounded by a collection of gemstones.

Another place setting memorialized 42-year-old Candace Butler of Bristol, who died Oct. 21, 1998. It included her sunglasses, a coffee mug depicting a poodle and her cell phone. The card at Butler’s place described her as a woman who loved animals and girl bands, “especially The Judds.” Butler left behind three children.

The youngest of the women, 22-year-old Laurie Dianne Trahan, was from Rockport. She was killed while trying to leave her partner June 6, 1992. A blue-and-white plate sat next to her photograph, a seashell and a Kiss CD. Trahan’s place card remembered her as a creative woman sorely missed by those she left behind.

A sixth place at the table honors the unnamed victims who are living with domestic violence. It features a single page of information about domestic violence, noting first that victims can be any race, age or gender, and that the abuse may be physical, emotional or verbal in nature.

Hutchinson said Ava’s family approached New Hope about including her at the memorial this year, and their hope was only to keep her memory alive.

“They specifically said we want her at the table, and that they wanted people to see her, and remember her,” said Hutchinson.