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Queens College speaks out on domestic violence

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month launched with a lavender glow Friday afternoon at Queens College as the school’s Benjamin S. Rosenthal Library lit its clock tower as part of a statewide initiative.

Purple is the color used to signify the cause of ending domestic violence, and “Shine the Light on Domestic Violence” is a state Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence effort to encourage organizations and schools to light their buildings purple as a show of their support.

The lighting ceremony was followed by an in-depth discussion of domestic violence in Queens, a conversation which turned emotional as domestic violence survivors stepped forward to anonymously tell their darkest secrets and describe their fears.

Led by Queens College and its Women and Work program — which serves as a way for domestic violence survivors and other women with troubled pasts to find their lives again through job training, counseling and help with housing and other issues — the event’s keynote speaker was Borough President Helen Marshall, who has worked to help stop domestic violence in the borough.

She said she was so moved by the testimonies of the women — one said she was stalked by an abuser for 12 years, another said she has been in and out of court but cannot get justice against a man who beats her and her child — that she wants to bring elected officials together to find a way to curb violence and punish those who commit it.

“We need to have a legislative session — federal, state and city — to listen to what these women are saying .... We need to bring together a group like this and have the legislators listen,” she said. “I’m going to pursue legislation because in Queens this is a disease sweeping through our borough and it’s probably sweeping through other boroughs, too. We’ve got to protect our women.”

Carmella Marrone, executive director and co-founder of Women and Work, applauded Marshall’s idea and said that one of the keys to stopping domestic violence is to end the stigmas attached to the issue and to bring it out into the open where it can be stopped. She said 650 incidents of domestic violence were reported each day in New York City last year.

“We have an epidemic here in America. You are the soldiers in this war. Please don’t stand silent. Please stand up and be heroes,” she said. “Every community can create a community without domestic violence when the community stands up and says, ‘No more.’”

For more information about Women and Work, visit qcpages.qc.cuny.edu/womenandwork or call 718-997-4899.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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