A domestic abuse survivor said that leaving her abusive relationship was the “most important choice” in her life on Thursday night to an audience of community members and Penn State students.
“The one time I felt brave, it was the courage I needed to finally make the change I needed in my life,” survivor Brittany Leach, of State College, said.
The State Theatre hosted a discussion on domestic violence, which featured speakers from the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, Penn State’s Counseling and Psychological Services.
In addition to panel speakers, three women with stories of domestic violence and survival shared their testimonies.
Vickey Warshaw of State College shared her story of her daughter, Jodi Barone, and her abusive relationship with her husband that ultimately took her life back in April 2007.
“The emotional, physical and sexual abuse that takes place remains a serious problem that cannot be overlooked,” she said.
Centre County District Attorney Stacy Parks-Miller spoke on her experience with domestic violence cases, which are very common in Centre County.
“In my office, I like to take an aggressive stance on domestic violence,” she said. “It is such a complex issue of how quickly very intelligent, young women can become under the influence of their abuser.”
Christy Beck, counselor of sexual assault and relationship violence specialist at CAPS, said that many resources are available here on campus for students.
“We have seen a great many number of people that have been assaulted, and CAPS is here for support,” Beck said.
CAPS provides support and resources for victims and holds abusers accountable for their behaviors.
Jamie Jones, Director of the Centre County Child Access Center, said that when a victim has a child or a child is involved, violence can be ongoing in the abusive relationship.
“Finishing up in only its fourth year, there have been about 4,500 custody exchanges and over 400 hours of serving victims,” she said. “Every family has different circumstances and our center is an option for people who don’t want to be dragged through custody and courts.”
Parks-Miller said that more people need to be looking out for domestic violence victims.
“No one is immune to domestic violence and it can happen to anyone. Abusers and victims come from all walks of life.”