At QC, Domestic Violence Awareness Day celebrates women’s empowerment

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Many Queens College students wore purple in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month on Oct. 15 as they attended the “Shine the Light on Domestic Violence” ceremony in the purple-painted Rosenthal Library clock tower.

The ceremony was a celebration of QC’s partnership in New York State’s campaign to raise awareness about domestic violence. The campaign is a low way for organizations to show their support for ending violence against women.

Carmella Marrone, an QC alum, led the ceremony. In 1998, she founded the Women and Work program. The program aims to empower women in order for them to achieve economic stability through workforce development and life strategizing skills.

“The Women and Work Program began as a pilot program in the women’s center at Queens College. We had no funding but a vision and a dream. The program started with just six women and quickly grew. To date, we have helped over 1,800 women and families,” Marrone said.

Women and Work is a community of women of all races, ethnicities, ages and religions that focuses on personal and professional development. Students take part in a 14 week program providing computer and technology skills, literacy and job readiness. In addition, it is free and helps populations such as victims of domestic and family violence, single mothers, immigrants, displaced homemakers and low-wage workers.

“This program is not simply teaching how to use computers and grammar but speaking to each woman to determine their road to success. One of the best things women can learn is to be their own advocate and stand up for themselves,” Marrone said.

Breaking the silence in order to stop the violence includes taking “purple steps” in order to raise awareness on a topic that’s seldom talked about despite staggering statistics. Each year an estimated 1.3 million women are victims of physical assault by an intimate partner and 15.5 million children a year are affected by domestic violence. Moreover, 30 to 40 percent of women’s emergency room visits are for injuries due to domestic violence and 65 percent of men who assaulted their female partners will also assault their children.

Martha Zupanic, a Women and Work graduate as well as a domestic violence survivor, shared her own personal story.

“Domestic violence should not be allowed [and] it is up to us to stop it. How? By speaking up and breaking the silence. The silence will not keep you safe. That was the case when that little voice inside me said look for help and that’s when I called the hope hotline,” Zupanic said.

The “hope hotline” is the 24 hour national domestic violence hotline that uses highly trained expert advocates to talk confidentially with anyone experiencing domestic violence.

Another advocacy program, Safe Horizon, provides victims of domestic violence, child abuse, human trafficking, rape and sexual assault with a wide range of comprehensive support. Their mission is to prevent violence and promote justice for victims of crime and abuse and their families.

“Domestic violence is everyone’s problem. Women and children continue to suffer in fear daily. We need to continue to speak out and take purple steps in order to shine the light on domestic violence,” Marrone said.

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