Silent Witness Exhibit Raises Voices For Women


Kristina Vakhman

Each podium represents a woman who lost her life to domestic violence.

Isabella Chan, News Editor

Harriet Gray Hunter of Westport was an every-day woman, working in the office of her local synagogue when her life stopped. After filing a restraining order against her husband and working on filing for divorce, Hunter’s spouse entered the school office of the synagogue and shot her twice in the head, killing her and himself promptly afterwards.
Her story, along with nine other women’s were part of The Silent Witness Exhibit by Central Connecticut’s Ruthe Boyea Women’s Center. Their experiences were meant to create an “engaging display that will rally community support to grieve the losses of human life, create awareness and educational materials and programs,” for victims of domestic violence.
Xandria Blair, senior biology major and event coordinator, found Hunter’s story to be the most troubling of the ten lives on display; she admits it is an unfortunate trend amongst those facing domestic violence.
“You see the trend, it starts out verbally abusive and then a few things here or there. And then it accumulates, next thing you know you’re injured,” Blair stated. “I think it’s important people know it’s not their fault, it’s important our peers do not recognize this behavior as sweet or clingy or overprotective-no! It’s cliche and the opposite of cute.”
The display showcased life-sized, red laminated silhouette’s of women, men and children murdered by acts of domestic violence during a specific time period within Connecticut.
Those whose stories were on display included:
  • Louisanna Nicholas, 54, Stamford
  • Christine Reid, 29, Bridgeport
  • Michelle Devine, 37, New Haven
  • Jennifer Vidak, 28, Sherman
  • Harriet Gray Hunter, 48, Westport
  • Michelle Gargliardo, 25, New Fairfield
  • Eileen Ware, 51, Enfield
  • Theodora Panaroni, 44, New Haven
  • Sandra Lind, 50, Madison
  • Cornelia Achim, 47, Plymouth

This exhibit reoccurs every year at CCSU during the month October, also known as domestic violence awareness month. The Women’s Center will also host two other events closely related to spreading awareness.

One of which being Take Back the Night, which though primarily focuses on sexual assault does correlate to domestic violence. Everyday, in the United States, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends, based on reports from Center of Disease Control.

Blair emphasizes that is important to address the signs domestic violence and how to handle such situations because of its “prevalence” amongst young couples.
“I don’t think that we target domestic violence towards our age group, you know like high schoolers going into a university. That’s why I think it was very important we put this [display] on,” Blair explained.
Blair recalled seeing her own peers face potentially aggressive situations in their relationships, noting a recent experience she witnessed.
“This past weekend I was on Instagram and this student was posting a bunch of videos for his girlfriend’s birthday and I thought ‘oh, this is really nice!'” Blair started. “In one of the videos she was sleeping while watching tv and he said ‘Wake your ass up or I’ll smack the f- out you. Why did you put this stupid eff on?'”
Describing the incident as “crazy,” and “verbally abusive,”, Blair claimed that if the boyfriend found the social media post acceptable then that means he is too comfortable with actions. She highlights that it is important to help those in abusive relationships, whether they are physical, mental or verbal.
It is recommended that those in a domestic violence situation to seek help. Available resources on campus include CCSU Police Department, Office of Equity and Inclusion, Office of Student Conduct, the Ruthe Boyea Women’s Center, LGBT Center and Student Wellness Services. Off-campus resources are YWCA Sexual Assault Crisis Services, English Hospital of Central Connecticut, Prudence Crandall Center for Domestic Violence 24 Hour Hotline.
In case of emergencies please call 911.