Keene State College recognized and promoted Domestic Violence Awareness Month by participating in a remembrance ceremony put on by the Monadnock Center for Violence Prevention (MCVP). Other events included hosting both a student and faculty debate on women’s rights and a lecture on the 2011 Campus Climate Survey.
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KSC held a lecture led by Forrest Seymour, of the Counseling Center, and Cathryn Turrentine, director of Institutional Research, on the results of the Campus Climate Survey of 2011. According to the survey, 86 percent of female students said they felt physically safe on campus. The survey also stated many female students felt unsafe when walking in the dark or when they were made aware of a publicized sexual assault. “This is true on any campus in the United States,” Turrentine said. The lecture also included stories of anonymous KSC female students’ personal accounts with sexual abuse.
Amanda Warman, director of Campus Safety, was among the audience, and spoke out when it came time to share what had been done to the campus to make its students feel safer. According to Warman, all the blue light security systems located throughout campus were fixed and running. She also said, “They are tested monthly.” Warman also shared that Carle Hall, a freshman dorm, now has cameras located inside. As the lecture came to a close, Dottie Morris, chief officer of Diversity and Multiculturalism at KSC said, “Because it happens often does not make it okay. We cannot normalize it.”
To recognize the month, KSC held another domestic violence awareness event. On Tuesday, Oct. 9, approximately 120 KSC students attended the student and faculty debate in the Mabel Brown Room. Students participating in the event were members of the Keene State Debate Club and all the faculty were professors from the KSC Communications department. The debate consisted of several women’s rights issues, one of them being the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, passed by former President Bill Clinton.
“This is protecting the women of our country. It’s inhumane to not cover someone,” Joanna Oko, sophomore debater at KSC, said. The Republicans took the side against any provisions, where the Democrats fought for it. The opinions stated from either side of the debate do not reflect the debater’s actual views; they were advocating a side solely for the purpose of the debate. When asked about the debate, Jennifer Keveny, a sophomore at KSC said she liked it because “both sides agreed against women violence, which is important.” The event was sponsored by the American Democracy Project, the Campus Commission on the Status of Women, and the Keene State Debate Club.
On October 3, Mayor Kendall Lane spoke at MCVP’s Remembrance Ceremony.
“October is domestic violence awareness month,” Keene Mayor Kendall Lane stated at the event. Mayor Lane, along with other special guests, such as Senator Molly Kelly, were among the small crowd that attended the MCVP event.
Mayor Lane read a proclamation to a small audience of community members, regarding issues on domestic violence. According to Lane, the goal of the administration is for the community to be safe, seeing as domestic violence affects all the citizens of Keene both mentally and physically.
Mayor Lane stated, “Many Americans do not see how widespread it is.” He also shared some domestic violence statistics with the audience. According to Mayor Lane, one in three women experience assault, and out of the 14 crisis centers in the state of New Hampshire, 3,000 women were treated in 2011.
As he closed his portion of the ceremony, the mayor stated, “Therefore, I, Kendall Lane, mayor of the city of Keene, proclaim October 2012 as Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Keene.”
Senator Kelly opened up her portion of the ceremony telling the mainly female audience, “You are all so beautiful.” Senator Kelly, a KSC graduate, said she attends the event every year. This year she made the promise to continue standing up for domestic violence. Senator Kelly said she feels it’s really important to all come together.
As a senator, Kelly said she wanted to “put funding back that was taken away.” The funding she mentioned were any funds related to both health and human services. Senator Kelly would like to increase these funds which would provide education, training and housing to domestic violence victims.
To make the feelings of domestic violence more real, Kasey LaFlam, education leader at the MCVP, included a reading of a letter written by a real-life domestic violence survivor named Faith. Faith’s story began when she was just 16 and met Jack, her soon-to-be husband. Jack was both mentally and physically abusive to his wife. According to Faith’s letter, Jack had hit her, giving her both a black eye and a busted lip, and used to tell her she was “fat and ugly.”
Faith also mentioned in the letter how she awoke one morning with her hand in pain and wrapped up in a rag.
According to the letter, Jack had drugged Faith and tattooed his name onto her hand using a dirty needle, while she was sleeping. Faith went on to include in her letter the details of how Jack threw her down the stairs when he found out she was pregnant. She lost the baby. After spending 20 years married to Jack, Faith said she eventually escaped.
“I never felt like his wife. I felt like a piece of property,” Faith said in her letter. According to LaFlam, Faith is currently residing at the MCVP shelter.
The ceremony included musical performances by Animaterra, a Monadnock region women’s chorus and readings by Robin Christopherson, the MCVP executive director and Amy Coey, the direct service coordinator of MCVP. Coey read a story to the audience entitled “One Woman is Too Many” written by Jenny Ward.
Christopherson shared domestic violence statistics with the audience. According to Christopherson, the number of fatal domestic violence homicides in New Hampshire reached 200 from 2000-2010. Christopherson said this counted for 44 percent of all the homicides during that time frame. “We need to do more to prevent domestic violence from happening,” Christopherson said. To close out the ceremony, LaFlam asked each audience member to take part in the closing footbridge ceremony. She had everyone take a flower and remember someone who has struggled with domestic violence. After the moment of silence, everyone dropped their flower into the Ashelout River.
Two Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) members were among the small crowd at the ceremony, showing their support for domestic violence survivors. “I am here because I want to stop domestic violence,” KSC sophomore Hersch Rothmel said. Rothmel is one of approximately 20 members of KSC’s MVP group. According to Rothmel, MVP is not the average club as it is an extension of the Counseling Center at KSC. MVP is a peer education group that requires an application and interview to join the group.
Rothmel said the group’s main focus is to go speak to classes, clubs, and resident halls about relationship violence, homophobia, and alcohol judgment topics. KSC sophomore Natasha Cable was the other member of MVP showing her support at the remembrance ceremony. Cable said she joined MVP because she wanted to. “I’ve always been that person. I like helping people,” Cable said.
Shannon Flynn can be contacted at