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Panelists Highlight How Domestic Violence Affects Everyone

November 1, 2011
By: Worcester State University News

Society is made aware of domestic violence, typically, through stories of a murder at the hands of the abuser. But domestic violence is far more complex than a “punch;” it can be sexual, physiological as well as physical. Domestic violence is all about the abuser’s control, manipulation, and isolation of the victim. Men, women, and children can all be victims.

On Wednesday, October 26 the annual Candace Allen Scola Lecture Series entitled “When Domestic Violence Leaves Home: Work and Campus Issues and Solutions” was held from 12:30- 1:30 p.m. in the Blue Lounge of the Student Center. The discussion was led by panelists Virginia C. McDonald, senior vice president and director of human resources at Webster Five Savings Bank in Auburn, and WSU Police Chief Rosemary Naughton.

The Candace Allen Scola Lecture series focuses on educating the WSU community about domestic violence. This year’s panelists focused on educating the WSU community about all the solutions and services available to victims of domestic violence.

McDonald told the story of the murder of Deborah Daigle, a Webster Five Cent Savings Bank employee, by her estranged husband. This tragic story inspired McDonald to serve on the board of directors for Employers Against Domestic Violence and implement a domestic violence clause in the Webster Five Cents Savings Bank’s violence policy.

“Most of us do understand that domestic violence is an important issue in our society, but we do not realize how perverse until it affects someone we know,” she said.

Many employers do go the “extra mile” to help their employees who are victims of domestic violence. McDonald said that victims are essential employees of their companies, and their employers usually have policies in affect to help them.

Not only can employers assist victims, but the University campus as well. Naughton described all the services available on and off the WSU campus for domestic violence victims.

“Domestic violence is a constant challenge for society; WSU has a lot of resources on campus, and Day Break off campus. You are never alone,” she said.

WSU provides safe rooms on campus, an anonymous text tip line, WSU police assistance, caring faculty, counseling services, and emergency restraining orders. WSU does not tolerate domestic violence between college students, employees, or faculty.

Help does not stop on campus; the Daybreak program offered at the YWCA is an excellent resource for domestic violence victims. Daybreak uses a program called “When” in which it implements an escape plan for the victim when he or she is ready to leave an abuser.

The “When” program also offers legal services designed to reduce the number of times a victim must recant the abuse. Many resources are available to victims of domestic violence, but education of what is domestic violence is essential.

Naughton explained that many victims do not come forward because there are no physical marks or because of injuries are on non-visible parts of the body. “Domestic violence is a gradual cycle that always begins with isolation. The abuser wants to break down the mental state of the victim. But domestic violence never decreases it only increases,” she said.

The panelists opened the floor for an open discussion. Many students and faculty asked questions and expressed their views on domestic violence.

“It’s important for people in abusive relationships to understand that they are in an abusive relationship and to know the services available to them,” said Katelyn O’Brien ’12 (Communication).

The discussion came to a close with a powerful and inspirational speech from Assistant Professor of Sociology Michelle Corbin. Her words captivated the audience and were rewarded with a loud applause.

“Do not look at the woman and ask her why she does not leave, but look at society for reasons of why a man thinks it is okay to hit her. When your friend confides in you, you must empower her, do not tell her what to do. Domestic violence is all about control and domination, and you do not want to be one more person making her feel stupid or incapable to think independently. Only she knows when she is ready to leave, so just be a source of encouragement and support, and more than anything, just believe her,” she said.

Written by Ene Idoko ’11

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