Sexual assault and domestic violence take center stage in Erie today.
SafeNet's 17th Annual Intimate Partner Violence Conference, 'The Silent Secret' was held at the Erie Maennerchor Club. The conference fell on Healthcare Domestic Violence Day. SafeNet representatives say one in three women and one in seven men are abused in their lifetime.
Different experts discuss and educating hundreds of people on these issues. Family Physician, Wanda Filer, says, "I had an entire family of patients murdered about 25 years ago. The husband/father/son-in-law - it was all one person - is now on death row in Pennsylvania. I go out and I tell the story of this family and I use it to educate people in the audience to learn about domestic violence and what their role is to end this travesty."
Jaclyn Seymour gives us a personal story from that conference that shows how important it is to speak out and educate on this topic. David Watson lost his daughter seven years ago. Now, he says she's his strength to stand up in hopes to one day prevent others from feeling the pain he feels every day.
Jenni-Lyn Watson's passion was dance and she studied at Mercyhurst University. However, her father says she started dating a man who did not respect her dreams. Jenni-Lyn went missing after returning home to the Syracuse area following a Thanksgiving break.
Her boyfriend who she tried to break up with admitting to ending her life. He pleaded guilty of her murder; guilty of strangling Jenni-Lyn and dumping her body in the woods.
David now says his daughter is his strength to stand up and tell her story, to bring awareness of the reality and severity of domestic violence.
Both Watson and the CEO of SafeNet, Linda King, say this is an issue that needs to be talked about more. King says, "We need to get out of the shadows because then we can start dealing with it."
One thing these experts want to make clear is domestic violence and sexual assault is not limited to just young women. It can affect anyone.
To volunteer or donate, please visit http://www.safeneterie.org/.
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