In the USA, Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) connects advocates who are working to end violence against women and their children. Each year, the month of October is devoted to a range of activities conducted at the local, state, and national levels, and IANSA members are involved across the country.
They are making the link between firearms possession and domestic violence, and continue to call for the US Congress to 'Enact sensible firearms laws to keep victims safe' and support legislation that restricts gun ownership by those convicted of domestic violence crimes.
By Lauren Ingeno, The Daily Collegian, 7 October 2010
In 2001, Amy became a victim of domestic violence when Vince fatally shot her in her own home, leaving her two young children without a mother.
On Wednesday night, “Telling Amy’s Story” — a documentary chronicling Amy’s abuse at the hands of her husband — was screened in the HUB Auditorium to an almost full audience as a part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
State College Police Detective Deirdri Fishel narrates the documentary as she attempts to put together the events leading to Amy’s death over a four-year span. In dramatizations, actors replay the events that occurred and Amy’s mother, her co-workers and law enforcement officials give interviews.
Fishel explains in the beginning of the documentary that State College is called one of the safest towns in the country.
“Everybody’s happy in Happy Valley,” she says. But though the community is mostly safe, there are many domestic violence incidents that are rarely talked about, Fishel said. “Who cares if you feel safe in your community if you can’t feel safe in your own home?” Fishel says.
The documentary showed that once Amy realized that she was in an unhealthy relationship, it became difficult for her to get the help she needed to get away from her husband. Through dramatizations, the documentary showed how Amy was threatened multiple times by her husband but didn’t work up the courage to leave for several years.
In 1998, after being threatened by a drunk Vince, Amy called the police on him for the first time. A judge issued an emergency protection order and took away his guns.
But when a judge asked Amy if she’d been threatened, she said she hadn’t, and the judge ordered that Vince’s guns be returned. A year later, Vince committed another gun crime, shooting through a window in his truck. Co-workers interviewed for the film said they’d advised Amy to get help, but she was fearful.
When Amy finally made the decision to leave, she returned to her home to collect some belongings. Vince shot and killed her as she entered the house. Her parents and children were waiting in their car in the driveway.
Following the documentary screening, a panel made up of Anne Ard from the Centre County Women’s Resource Center, assistant director for the Center for Women Students Audra Hixson and two students from Men Against Violence opened a discussion on domestic violence and relationship abuse.
“Amy did not access a lot of resources that were available to her, which is not unusual,” Hixson said.
This led the Centre County Women’s Resource Center “to be proactive” and create easier ways for women to access help, Ard said.
When asked by a student why Vince was able to get his guns back after they had been taken away, Ard said U.S. gun laws are very loose.
“You’ve identified a very serious problem: that gun laws don’t protect victims of domestic violence,” Ard said.
Belle Genao (junior-criminal law and justice) said she attended the screening because she volunteers for the Centre County Women’s Resource Center and watched it during her training.
“When I saw it originally I was like, I really want more people to see this,” Genao said. She said that she was more upset than shocked by Amy’s tragedy. “She tried to get help from who you think you’re supposed to get help from, which is law enforcement,” she said. “She didn’t get the help that she needed."