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The Mass Media

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February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

UMB Observes Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Since the national tragedy that occurred on September 11, American society has become more conscious of violence in our world. However, some people in our society are accustomed to living in fear of violence every day, on a very personal level; these people are victims of domestic violence. In observation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, UMass Boston is holding a luncheon, and will display an exhibit called Silent Witnesses, which honors women who have died at the hand of domestic abuse, on October 25.

The coordinators of this event are Donna Durfee, a Health Education Coordinator and Detective Kathleen Potter, the domestic violence officer in the Department of Public Safety. Durfee stated, “I wanted to raise awareness of domestic violence year-round and let victims know that there is a safe, confidential haven that they can turn to.”

Stressing that race, economic class and level of education do not immunize people against domestic violence, Potter added, “Domestic violence affects all of us, everywhere we go,” explaining that domestic violence affects one in three women, and that although only five percent of reported domestic violence victims are men, many more instances of abuse of men go unreported. Furthermore, if a victim obtains a restraining order against his or her attacker, the violence can extend to the victim’s workplace. The attacker may follow the victim to work or school, or may try to reach the victim through a “third party” by sending flowers to him or her, for example.

Durfee and Potter agreed that “domestic violence is stigmatized.” They explained that while people are open to observing and participating in other awareness events, such as breast cancer, they are reluctant to talk about domestic abuse. Durfee stated, “People do not want to seem like they are assuming a big brother role.”

Potter further explained, “If people have not experienced domestic violence themselves, they know someone who has. People have come to me saying that they know their cousin is a victim of domestic violence, and they want to help them but aren’t sure what to do.”

“Because UMB is a commuter school, it is harder to reach out to people here, so the luncheon on October 25 will help us to get our message out,” Potter said, emphasizing that the luncheon, which will be held in the Healey Library (11th floor, 11:30am-2:00pm), is open to everyone. Information packets will be distributed at the luncheon, including resource information for both victims and those who know of domestic violence victims. The packets will also include a statement in memory of Kim Magnarelli, a UMB student who died in 1998 as a result of domestic violence.

Chancellor Gora will give the opening remarks at the luncheon. Other speakers will include: representatives from Peace at Home, a support resource; the Upham’s Corner Health Center; the Dorchester District Court, which has a pilot court that hears only domestic violence cases and the Fenway Health Center, which serves a large homosexual community.

Officer Clara Molina, who, funded by the UMB Student Senate, completed Rape Aggressive Defense training, will also speak in order to encourage others at UMB to attend the training.

The Silent Witnesses, which are free standing, life-size, red, wooden figures, each have a breast shield with the name and story of a person murdered by domestic violence. Some of their stories are gruesome, but they serve as a wake up call and make those who read the stories aware of the extent and seriousness of domestic violence. They will be positioned in the catwalk between the administration building and the library.

“This observation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month is just a start,” Durfee stated. Durfee, who has personally been a victim of domestic violence, expressed, “If someone can see that I’ve been through it and survived, they can see that there is a way out. We hope to build up a series of support to counteract the series of violence they have endured.” She explained that after the luncheon and Silent Witness exhibit, they will maintain awareness of domestic violence by posting flyers so that any victims or people who want to help a victim who they know, regardless of gender or sexual orientation, can find out where they can go for assistance or support.

Potter emphasized the role of the Department of Public Safety in this continued effort to fight domestic violence, stating, “We must remember it is a crime.” adding that her department is there to help victims, by supporting existing restraining orders, providing escort services and resource information, and helping victims through the legal system. She said, “If we have restraining order information on file before a violation of the order occurs, it will speed up the process of responding to the incident.” She will also continue to represent her department at the Dorchester Community Round Table on Domestic Violence, a “very diverse group” that raises awareness of domestic violence through other agencies.

To RSVP for the luncheon, for further information on the events to be held on October 25, or for specific information on victim resources, contact Donna Durfee at 617-287-5648.

Durfee concluded, “Hopefully awareness raised by these events will help silent victims to know that there is someone at the university to help them so they won’t feel so alone.”