By Leo Brine
Hofstra hosted the Nassau County Domestic Violence Awareness Ceremony for the first time on Wednesday, Oct. 11. The event educated the community about the reality and scope of domestic violence and offered resources for those affected by it.
One speaker, who will be referred to as Anthony, shared his story and emphasized the message “if you see something, say something.”
“For the first 13 years of my life I lived in fear,” said Anthony, a survivor of domestic and sexual assault. He told his story of abuse and eventual escape from the torment at the hands of his father. Anthony then detailed his battle with drug addiction and alcoholism – something many domestic abuse survivors struggle with.
Sandy Oliva, the co-executive director for the Safe Center Long Island, has been working to put an end to domestic violence and abuse. During the event she was presented with an award acknowledging her dedication to spreading awareness and attempting to initiate a transformation in our society. “We’ve made many changes for victims and their families … but despite these changes there’s still more to do,” Oliva said.
During the event, the audience was presented with data depicting the severity of the problem. “We’ve come to understand that when it comes to social change, there is no peace or silence … silence only perpetuates,” Oliva said. One such change comes in the form of a bill proposed by New York State Assemblyman David McDonough. His bill would require any abuse that happens in a school – public or private – to be reported; currently only New York public schools are legally required to report abuse.
Sara Whitman, a senior journalism major, left the event with a sense of security knowing there were so many outlets she could go to if she ever needed them. “I honestly thought the government didn’t do enough, but after [the ceremony] I see that at least Long Island is doing a lot,” Whitman said. “I am a lot more aware of the resources on Long Island and I am happier knowing those resources are available.”
Students who attended the ceremony walked away better informed about all aspects of domestic violence. “[Abuse] is not something you see in men and [his story] made me more aware,” said Christina Robert, a junior community health major.
On campus, Hofstra offers resources such as counseling services, educational workshops and collaborative programs with the Safe Center. Allison Vernace, the Title IX Officer for Student Issues, said, “Interested students can reach out directly to Katie Wigdzinski from the Safe Center at 516-465-4769.”