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Jorgensen highlights domestic violence

Battering women is a crime against liberty because it deprives women of their capacity to be creative, according to Evan Stark, a national authority in interpersonal violence who helped found one of the country's first shelters for battered women.

"The intimidation, isolation and physical abuse creates social, psychological and behavioral problems," said Stark, co-director of the UConn Health Center's Domestic Violence Training Project (DVTP), during keynote address at a three-day conference on domestic violence held at Jorgensen Auditorium.

"Our social system should offer not only safety to the abused women, but also empowerment, accountability and justice for women," he said.

The conference, "Confronting the Beast: Innovations in Domestic Violence," focused on community awareness and education about domestic violence and its effect on women, children and the community.

Dr. Anne Flitcraft, a nationally recognized expert on domestic violence and its implications for health and medicine, urged that two distinct movements come together.

"The domestic violence and women's health movements share parallel histories and similar philosophies, yet they remain largely distinct and unengaged with each other," said Flitcraft, an associate professor of medicine at the Health Center and co-director of DVTP. "These movements should identify their common goals and work together to address the needs of abused women."

The event drew more than 200 people from legal services, hospitals, and agencies of domestic violence services and social services from throughout the state. Many departments at UConn worked with 30 agencies in Connecticut to arrange the conference, the first of its kind to be organized by Jorgensen, said Catherine C. Kalonia, publicity marketing director of Jorgensen.

Mark Emmert, chancellor, said he was gratified by the University's participation in this community program.

"In underlining the University's role in this conference, I want to note particularly the prominent role played by the University's artistic community and the Jorgensen," he said. "The visual and performing arts are powerful tools for communication. I am pleased that they are being deployed in the battle against domestic violence, and that Jorgensen is taking a leading part."

The conference culminated with a dance theater performance of "The Beast." The performance, choreographed and performed Wednesday night by Donald Byrd/ The Group, dramatized the issue of domestic violence by focusing on a single incident between a husband and wife at home.

The conference was sponsored by the Windham Region United Way, the Willimantic Chronicle, and the Office of the Chancellor. It was co-sponsored by DVTP, the Women's Center and the Office of Diversity and Equity.

Usha Palaniswamy