Breaking the Silence on Domestic Violence

A message from CCD President, Dr. Marielena DeSanctis.
  • Group of men and women posing with a document in one of their hands.

In a letter addressed to the CityHawk community on Monday, October 2, 2023, President DeSanctis shared her support for Denver City Council's historical action to recognize October as Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. Dr. DeSanctis not only stood next to survivors as an ally but as a survivor herself. Her letter is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and an ode to the collective courage needed to break free from the cycle of abuse. Join us as we delve into her words, filled with courage, compassion, and unwavering commitment to domestic violence awareness and prevention.

"Dear Community College of Denver Family, 

I want to share something deeply personal and significant with all of you, our cherished college community, regarding an issue of utmost importance – domestic violence awareness and prevention.

As the President of the Community College of Denver, I stand before you not just as an academic leader but as someone who has personally confronted the harrowing reality of domestic violence. It is my honor and privilege to inform you that on October 2, 2023, the Denver City Council signed Proclamation No. 23-1395, recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. This proclamation holds profound meaning for me, not only as an advocate for this cause but as a survivor.

Domestic violence is a pervasive and heart-wrenching issue that affects countless individuals, transcending age, race, gender, and socioeconomic status. The statistics are alarming, with 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men expected to experience domestic violence in their lifetimes. In Colorado, the number of domestic violence incidents continues to rise, with a tragic doubling of fatalities in 2022. These numbers speak volumes about the urgent need for action and awareness.

Domestic violence takes many forms, including emotional, physical, sexual, and financial abuse. Each of these violations undermines an individual's sense of security, privacy, and basic human dignity. It is a stark contradiction to the principles of respect, empathy, and equality that our college community upholds. No one should ever live in fear within their own homes. Every individual has the intrinsic right to feel safe within their relationships and have access to unwavering support systems that unequivocally denounce domestic violence.

At every twist and turn, breaking free from an abusive relationship presents individuals with overwhelming and seemingly insurmountable challenges. This holds true even for those like me, who have had the privilege of a good education and ample personal and financial resources. I, too, faced moments of despair and hopelessness. Abusers often wield their manipulation skills with cunning precision, sowing discord and achieving apparent victories, even within the legal system.

It's worth noting that many survivors, faced with these immense barriers, do find themselves returning to their abusers, perpetuating this cycle of suffering. It requires a collective display of courage to uphold our commitment to our community, to avoid doubting survivors, and to offer unwavering support. We must recognize that statistics alone should not dictate the future of these individuals. The responsibility of reducing and ultimately eradicating domestic violence falls on our shoulders as a community. We must stand together. Our collective effort can break the cycle of abuse and offer a glimmer of hope to those who have endured unspeakable pain.

I applaud the City Council of the City and County of Denver for their proclamation recognizing October as Domestic Violence Awareness and Prevention Month. This proclamation honors the bravery of survivors, advocates, and all those who stand against abuse. It urges our broader community to raise its voice against this issue and reaffirms our collective commitment to ending domestic violence.

In closing, awareness is the first step toward change, and this proclamation is a testament to our shared commitment to making a difference. Let us unite in our resolve to transform the lives of those affected by domestic violence and work tirelessly to create a safer, more compassionate community for all.

With heartfelt gratitude and an unwavering commitment to our shared values,

Marielena "Marie" DeSanctis, Ph.D.

President, Community College of Denver"