Willimantic, Conn. – On April 1, a crowd of Eastern Connecticut State University students gathered on the Student Center patio for “Warriors Against Violence,” a rally to raise awareness of dating violence. The event started with a march around campus and concluded with a speech by author and advocate Susan Omilian.
During the march, students shouted empowering statements of courage and antiviolence, led by a speaker with a megaphone. “Wherever we go, however we dress, no means no and yes means yes!” shouted the crowd of female and male students.
At 2 p.m. on the Student Center patio, Omilian took the podium and told the story of her niece, Maggie Wardle, who was a 19-year-old sophomore in college when she was shot and murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1999. At the time of this tragedy, there were no on-campus organizations dedicated to awareness, intervention or victim support of dating violence and related issues.
Since her niece’s death, Omilian has spoken across the country on the topic of dating violence. Colleges across the nation, including Eastern, have established on-campus resources to handle these issues, such as Eastern’s Sexual Assault Response Team (SART).
“Warriors Against Violence,” an event within an ongoing awareness-raising campaign, was organized and sponsored by the Womens’ Center, SART and a number of social work students.
According to Omilian and other authorities on the topic, warning signs of an unhealthy, abusive relationship can be emotional, physical, psychological, sexual and economic. If they have any concern whatsoever, students are urged to utilize Eastern’s support resources.