Friday, December 9, 2011

2 amazing women and remembering John Lennon

Photo by Julie Baumgarten

Yesterday I participated in the domestic violence radio row at Liz Claiborne's Manhattan Fashion District headquarters.

Co-sponsored by Talker's Magazine, parent company of the Talk Radio News Service, the It's Time to Talk event brings radio show hosts from across the country together to talk with the nation's top experts on domestic violence.

Liz Claiborne just released a survey of college age women.

It found that nearly half of dating college women report having experienced violent or abusive threats of physical violence. More than one in five were the victims of actual physical or sexual abuse or threats of physical violence. And more than one-third of college students said they would not know how to get help on campus if they found themselves in an abusive relationship.

I had the opportunity to interview two women who are immersed in the issue of domestic violence. They come to it from two different directions.

Ann Burke is president and co-founder of the Love is Not Abuse Coalition and founder of the Lindsay Ann Burke Memorial Fund - named after her daughter - who - at the age of 21 - was murdered six years ago by an ex-boyfriend.

It was an emotional and difficult interview, I think for both Ann and myself. But it imparted to our audience so much information about the signs of abuse or impending abuse and how family and friends can best intervene and support the victim. Ann has learned through painful experience that some of the best actions and reactions to abuse may seem counter-intuitive. And that it's very important that a woman in an abusive relationship get help from one of the organizations that have been established to assist dv victims. Counselors there, she says, are more adept at helping than private therapists because they are experts in the field.

For more information or to contact Ann, go to

The second interview was fascinating. Iconic documentary photographer Donna Ferrato became intimately aware of the problems of domestic violence by taking pictures. Of abused women. Of abusive men. Of cops intervening and making arrests.

The photos are gritty, raw and bring to light the dirty secret that's hidden behind walls and doors. They put faces, sometimes beaten and battered faces, to the statistics. Her heralded book, Living with the Enemy, brings these stories to light. You can order Living with the Enemy by calling 212-367-7004.

Donna went beyond just documenting. She started Domestic Abuse Awareness, whose mission it is to end violence against women and children through awareness, education and action.

And she made an offer to the audience. To any woman in an abusive relationship. She'll put cameras up in the house and catch the abuser in the act.

Yesterday was also the anniversary of John Lennon's murder in 1980, so my daughter, her boyfriend and I gathered with others, representing multiple generations, at the Imagine mosaic at Central Park's Strawberry Fields, joining in song as musicians acoustically jammed one Lennon song after another.

A candle burned in Yoko Ono's window overlooking the park.

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