The Collegian
Sunday, June 20, 2021

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Officer raises awareness about domestic violence

A University of Richmond senior was the victim of an extreme domestic violence case in December 2005. Westhampton College student De'Nora Hill filed a protective order against her ex-boyfriend, Joseph Casuccio, after he slashed her tires and broke her sliding glass door, but it was not enough. On Dec. 5, Casuccio shot and killed Hill before committing suicide.

Nearly five years later, University of Richmond police officer Angela Combs spoke to a group of approximately 20 women about the warning signs and dangers of domestic violence and places where victims or witnesses could find help. The speech was hosted by the Student Alliance for Sexual Diversity (SASD).

SASD president Jon Henry said he hoped the lecture would help bring awareness of domestic or dating violence issues to Richmond students.

Junior Ann Jarboe said: "I think dating violence is a much larger problem on this campus than any of us would like to admit. However, I think it is important to address this issue, as it will not go away on its own."

Combs, who worked for the Petersburg Police Department for five years before joining the University of Richmond Police Department two years ago, said as a police officer she had seen many domestic violence cases. Domestic violence issues played a major part in her desire to go into the force, she said. But Combs also has an even closer tie to the subject: She was a victim herself.

"I fight grown men for a living," she said. "I've been shot at. ... But even someone as confident as me can be made a victim."

The best thing anyone in an abusive relationship, or anyone who witnesses abuse can do, is reach out and say something, Combs said.

"Our silence is [abusers'] biggest protector," she said.

Students in need of help can talk to friends, use the university's Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), contact someone at the Richmond police department or even e-mail their deans.

"There are several resources available to students in need of help for themselves or for their friends," Jarboe said. "Outside of CAPS, the Office of the Chaplaincy is a great on-campus resource. Students can also utilize the resources available in the community, such as Safe Harbor ... [which] is free of charge and located within a five-minute drive of campus."

The most important thing, Combs said, was to do research and stay educated. Websites such as the National Center for Victims of Crime (www.ncvc.org), The Red Flag Campaign (www.theredflagcampaign.org) or the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance (www.vadv.org) all provide more information on domestic violence.

Contact staff writer Kate MacDonnell at kate.macdonnell@richmond.edu

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