In a speech that visibly moved those who attended, Barbara J. Hart, a leading national spokesperson on dating and domestic violence, sought last night to “let people know that we can intervene to stop the violence,” she said.
Hart was the first speaker in what will become an annual series of domestic violence lectures in memory of Tamara Williams, an LSA senior who was stabbed to death by her boyfriend on Sept. 23, 1997.
Hart”s speech was centered on the importance of intervening in cases of domestic violence.
“We must act with courage, passion, clarity and community,” Hart said. “And we can intervene to stop these acts of terrorism.”
Allen Levy, director of public relations for University Housing, said the event was devised with Williams in mind. “We”ve been looking for a way to honor her memory, so we decided to establish this lecture.” University Housing was the chief sponsor of the event.
Hart took time to remember Williams in her speech. “But for her isolation, she might be with us today,” Hart said.
Hart, who is also a University alum, recalled a past abusive relationship, which she only recently left. “For a time, I thought Ann Arbor was the center of the universe and the violence inflicted on me was invisible,” she said.
Levy said the goal of the lecture series will be to place hightened awareness on the issue. “We wanted to continue the discussion on dating and domestic violence,” Levy said. “Our goal is to keep the issue at the forefront of the University”s conscience.”
“We feel this a current issue and students need to be aware of the resources students need to have hope things will get better”
Hart reinforced the need for society to pay attention to domestic violence with stories of women in abusive relationships. “Women have incredible strength and power, but they need resources and the time to reflect and act,” she said. “Unless battered women are aware of their options, they are ill-served by agencies and the court.”
Students had positive comments about Hart”s speech.
“It was very enlightening. It was about a subject that more people should be aware of, especially in the African-American community,” said LSA senior Theda Gibbs.
Others hoped the lecture would make a difference in the way students think about the issue.
“I hope it raises awareness to dating and domestic violence issues,” said Engineering senior Joy Wojtas.
LSA senior Crystal McLawhorn said she was pleased with the diversity in the audience.
“I really liked the diverse group and I thought it was great speech because a lot of people on campus don”t talk about the issue,” she said. Like Gibbs, McLawhorn said she hopes more blacks know about the subject.
Hart”s lecture was sponsored by the School of Social Work, University Housing, the Sexual Assault and Prevention Awareness Center and the Interdisciplinary Research Program on Violence Across the Lifespan.