Fall Semester 2019

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At the end of the summer, I thought, “Well, it might be time to update my head shots…” I’d grown in my gray AND my 80’s bangs (finally) Good thing I did; turned out that my <Domestic Violence Awareness Month> would last 16 weeks …

September 12 & 13 * Hobart & William Smith Colleges

September 18 * Niagara University, Dr. Dana Radatz, “Domestic Violence” Class

October 9 * University at Buffalo, Dr. Chris St Vil, “Theory of Human Behavior & Development”

October 18 * CAPPA Theatre, Robert H. Jackson Center, Jamestown, Judicial Conference

October 24 * Woodclif Hotel, Rochester, Judicial Conference

October 28 * Buffalo Historic Courthouse, Judicial Conference

October 29 * University at Buffalo, Dr. Rob Keefe, SW 505

November 3 * St. John the Baptist RC Church, RCIA Program, Teen Dating Violence Program

November 12 * University at Buffalo, Dr. Noelle St. Vil, SW 505

November 13 * Hamburg HS, 9/10 grade Health Classes, Teen Dating Violence Program

November 14 & 18 * ECC Law Enforcement Academy w/the Erie County DV High Risk Team, Continuing Education for Sworn Officers

November 21 * Global Concepts HS, GLOW Program, Teen Dating Violence Program

December 18 * NC Law Enforcement Academy, 73rd Class

December 19 * Buffalo Family Courthouse w/Erie County DV High Risk Team, DV Program for Assigned Counsel

I also signed on with the @ncadv Speaker’s Bureau and finished out the final six months of the Peer Mentoring/DV Program sponsored by the Niagara County Victims Assistance Unit in the Niagara County jail. To top off my very long semester and to celebrate the season, I decorated my first “Period Tree” – <Just Say “NO!” to Period Shaming!>

Looking forward to a far less busy Spring Semester and to finally getting the first draft of the new book into the hands of my First Readers by the end of March. Say a prayer for me, folks; editing is the worst ūüė¶

 

Surviving…Thriving: A Journey of Healing Through Art, October 5, 2017

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Surviving‚ĶThriving: A Journey of Healing through Art featured nearly one hundred pieces of artwork in a variety of mediums, all created by survivors of domestic violence. It was once again held at The Castellani Art Museum (which sits in the center of Niagara University campus) in conjunction with¬†the Red Flag Campaign, a national public awareness initiative designed to encourage college students to intervene when they see a warning sign (‚Äúred flag‚ÄĚ) of partner violence.¬†Niagara University, The Child Advocacy Center of Niagara, Family & Children‚Äôs Service of Niagara, The Niagara County Sheriff‚Äôs Office Victim Assistance Unit, and the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier were all proud sponsors of the event, with all proceeds being donated to Passage House Domestic Services, a program of Family & Children‚Äôs Service of Niagara.

I was happy to offer closing remarks at the Welcome Reception, as October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

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Well attended by NU students; they didn’t seem to mind waiting in line to sign in.

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DV Advocates with the Niagara County Victims Assistance Unit painting pinkies ūüôā The mission of¬† The Purple Pinkie Campaign is to eliminate¬†dating violence. The campaign was founded in memory of 18-year-old Alex Kogut who was murdered by her boyfriend in her college dorm room at SUNY Brockport on September 29, 2012.

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Students of the Niagara County Law Enforcement Academy showing off their Purple Pinkies!

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It’s important to note that the event was well attended by both men and women.

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Campus and community advocates made themselves available throughout the entirety of the event to address any complicated or painful emotions that attendees might experience.

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Survivor stories are featured with many of the pieces of artwork.

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The Silent Witness Project was the centerpiece of the exhibit.

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Debbie Boyer stands in front of her daughter’s¬†Silent Witness¬†statuette.¬†Tina Marie was murdered in her own home by her former boyfriend on August 4, 2004.

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Debbie is a pillar of strength and meeting her for the first time was truly my honor, because she’s also a fighter – In the nearly fifteen years since her daughter’s death, she’s become a well known advocate in Niagara County for her unwavering support of domestic violence prevention and response. With a deep understanding that adequate funding equals adequate services for women in need, she and her family¬† conduct two fundraisers yearly: a cell phone drive and the ‚ÄúPennies from Heaven‚ÄĚ drive which to date has raised more than $20,000 in support of the YWCA’s DV services and programs. The YWCA of the Niagara Frontier also recently dedicated a newly renovated room in its Domestic Violence Safe Dwelling in memory of her daughter, Tina Marie.

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“I ask each and every one of you who will walk this floor tonight to please understand
What you’re viewing isn’t merely art, it’s strength.
It is courage and dignity and tenacity.
What these walls house tonight is a testimony to the strength of the human spirit.”

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L to R: Dr. Dana Radatz,¬†Assistant Professor of Criminology; Eileen Wrobel, Family & Children’s Services; NYS Assemblyman Angelo Morinello; Niagara University President Fr. James Maher; Larissa Bachman, Director of PASSAGE; NU Executive Vice Pres Dr. Debra Colley; *ME*; NC Victims Asst. Unit Susan LaRose; Criminology student Courtney Kenny; YWCA Sexual Violence Prevention Educator/Advocate Rachel Sandle-Sacco

Photos Courtesy of Andrew Emmons, student at Niagara University

Fall Semester, 2016

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20161211_121241Five schools, hundreds of students. I remember their faces and many of their names. More than once this semester I looked out at them looking back at me and thought, “This is crazy; how in the world did I get here?”

Well, I’m here primarily because while I thought that typing “The End” was the end, there’s a growing body of professors and helping professionals who have decided that¬†Leaving Dorian¬†is only a beginning.

When asked the first time if I would speak to a group of college students – as a sort of companion piece to the book – I was extremely hesitant. I didn’t think I had anything left to offer. I remember asking my husband, “I’ve already exposed my soul on paper; what else is there?” Turns out there are volumes that remain unwritten and there are students who are eager to read each and every page.

Because each class is learning about intimate partner violence from a different perspective, what I’ve set out to do is to become a living research project, of sorts. I encourage the students to poke around – to take a good look around my mind and heart and see for themselves what abuse looks like from the inside out. The goal is to see if they can connect the dots from my experience to what they’ve learned about in class.

The opportunity that I offer them isn’t an easy one; it takes real courage to look someone in the eye as you’re cutting them open, even when they’re the one who handed you the scalpel. But these young adults rise to the challenge; they take that scalpel and they cut and try and peel back the layers. They poke around and try and find the answers that they’ve read about but have not seen with their own eyes. Sometimes they find what they’re looking for easily and we build on their enthusiasm by cutting a little more, digging a little deeper. Other times I don’t have the answer; I don’t know exactly what they’re looking for (sometimes they don’t really know, either) and I ask them to try again. Cut again, I encourage them. Keep digging. Here, I’ll help you. They cut here and see what’s under there; they dig and I encourage them and their professors guide them and we, as a collective, try to extract the answers.

I’ve received stacks of glowing student evaluations this semester, most of which describe me as “brave”, “courageous” and “inspirational”. It’s heartening to know that the students view me in this way, but I have to admit that I would describe them in exactly those same terms; studying to be a helping professional isn’t for the faint of heart.

Fall semester 2016 was fantastic and I’m looking forward to revisiting new students in these courses again during the Fall of 2017!

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The Niagara University campus was WINDY that evening, though my frazzled appearance might also have something to do with the fact that I spent three hours hashing it out with these students from Dr. Dana Radatz CRJ 585 Domestic Violence class. I have real affection for this group, as I still see many of them when I visit the NU campus for other DV related events.

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You just never know what you’re walking into when you visit a campus for the first time. Nazareth’s Health Center brought me in for an evening presentation in support of DV Awareness Month. The podium was unlike any I’d used before (short!) and I couldn’t see my notes, even with my readers on. I tried to remedy the situation by kicking off my heels about ten minutes in but as it turned out, shorter wasn’t better. So… I ended up delivering the entire presentation sans shoes, notes and readers ūüôā

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Because it was a campus-wide event, there were faculty and students from many different disciplines in attendance. Such great questions for me and interesting discussion afterward! I also loved that I was able to spend extra time with students who wanted to speak with me one-on-one long after the scheduled presentation time had come and gone.

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Presented to me by the Health Center interns: “Thank you so much for sharing your story with Nazareth College students and staff. We appreciate you taking the time to be with us.”

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Two day event in the Finger Lakes region for Hobart and William Smith Colleges.

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The room filled up with students and professors pretty quickly (past and present – some even brought their parents!) but there were folks from the community in attendance, as well.

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Talking about Emily Carson, a young mother of three who was murdered in downtown Geneva in February of 2016. She was shot twice by her boyfriend before he turned the gun on himself. It all happened one quiet Sunday morning while dozens of innocent bystanders became unintentional witnesses. His family was quoted afterward as saying that he “…wasn’t a violent guy.” I talk about how quickly an emotionally abusive relationship can turn violent, especially once a victim leaves or tries to leave.

 

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And this is how we do it – taking questions from Dr. Jim Sutton’s undergraduate Social Deviance class, Hobart & William Smith Colleges.

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Book signing ūüôā By the end of the class, many of the students are comfortable enough to share their own stories with me. Honestly, this is my favorite part of any presentation – meeting the students one-on-one!

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I wish my own children were as enthusiastic about having their picture taken with me as my students are! About half of the class is pictured here.

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I always take a very relaxed approach to presentations because the material can get extremely graphic and emotional. Reactions run the gamut; there are students who spend the entire class period furiously scribbling notes while others will cringe, get visibly agitated or need to leave the room to compose themselves. There are always survivors of violence in the room – always – and Dr. Noelle St. Vil’s Social Work class at the University at Buffalo was no different.

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It was very early on in this “public speaking” thing that I realized that I was going to need to sprinkle in a little levity here and there. When I smile, the students smile. When I poke fun, they laugh. It’s an essential element to making sure that the students can “hear” me. Yes, I tell them, what I lived through is terrible and no, it wasn’t fair and yes, I bear the scars of it –¬†but¬†– my life continues to move on and here are some of the dozens of silly, crazy, ridiculous stopping blocks I’ve had to overcome in the years since I left.

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Many graduate students are already working in the field; staffing shelters, working at local help centers or with law enforcement. Their timely, real-world anecdotes are helpful in generating discussion that goes beyond my experience and what they’ve learned about in class.

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I’d never Skyped a class before, so I was more that a little concerned that I wouldn’t be able to gain the emotional momentum needed to connect with the students. Happily, within minutes I realized that it wasn’t going to be an impediment; the students in Dr. Angie Moe’s SOC 4950 Family Violence Class at Western Michigan University made the best of the unusual set-up and filled the hour with really thoughtful, specific questions.

Academic Reviews of “Leaving Dorian”

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“I (enjoyed) your eloquent book (Leaving Dorian). The writing was great and I loved the way you juxtaposed the leaving chapters, reminding everyone it is a process, not a single event, with the rest of the relationship. The details were all too familiar from dozens of other similar cases, many with not such happy endings. I think we need to put a much greater emphasis on the ‘safety work’ women do after they get out.”¬†–¬†Evan Stark, Ph.D, MSW, Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University and author of “Coercive Control: How Men Entrap Women in Personal Life”

“Linda Dynel‚Äôs Leaving Dorian¬†is an impactful read, and one I assign regularly in my graduate Domestic Violence courses.¬†Leaving Dorian¬†provides my students with insights on the adversities and challenges that survivors may experience, both during and after their violent relationship. Further, Dynel‚Äôs book highlights foreshadowing life experiences prior to her relationship with Dorian, which help students understand risk factors and red flags associated with unhealthy relationships, as well as the evolution and cyclical nature of domestic violence. Assigned as the first book of the semester, my students consistently discuss and relate Dynel‚Äôs book to other class readings and material throughout the remaining semester, and frequently share that it is their favorite read of the class. It is readily apparent that¬†Leaving Dorian¬†resonates with them long after they finish reading the book,¬†as it provides students with a glimpse into one survivor‚Äôs harrowing journey to escape relationship violence. In short ‚ÄĒ Dynel‚Äôs¬†Leaving Dorian is a must read!” – Dana L. Radatz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Criminology & Criminal Justice, Niagara University

“Linda Dynel‚Äôs gripping account of the ongoing abuse she endured while living with her now ex-husband Dorian serves as a wake-up call to all human service professionals. Not only must we conduct assessments of our clients we fear may be at-risk for domestic violence but reach out into the communities where we work. ¬†As Ms. Dynel reveals in her book, domestic violence is insidious: victims of abuse are often not in a position to reach out for help on their own behalf. Instead, it is incumbent on professionals to become more attuned to the dynamics of domestic violence; educate other health and human service professionals to do the same; and advocate on behalf of victims for services that are adequate, appropriate, and accessible.” – Robert H. Keefe, PhD, ACSW, Associate Professor, University at Buffalo School of Social Work¬†¬†

“I chose Leaving Dorian¬†for my Domestic Violence course based on the recommendation of a respected Victimologist. I am SO glad I did. The book served as the ‘focal point’ of our entire semester, and we were able to apply all of the principles we’d discussed in class about intimate partner violence to Linda’s real experience. For my students, some of the aspects of the book that stood out were religious abuse, psychological abuse, the effect of abuse on children, and how truly hard it is for a person to leave an abusive situation. We spent an entire week of class time just discussing this book in detail. I have had several students tell me this was the most worthwhile read of our entire semester together; it is an easy and powerful read that moves at a fast pace. I am so grateful Linda wrote about her harrowing ordeal in such detail. I truly believe this book has changed my students’ lives.” – Dr. Danielle Slakoff, Assistant Professor of Criminology and Justice, Loyola University New Orleans

“The DV community owes you a huge thank you for putting yourself out there so honestly and bravely. It’s quite common and easy for people who haven’t been in a violent relationship to pass judgement, especially when kids are involved. You so effectively dispelled many of the common stereotypes, which is just so critical in higher ed. I can lecture until I’m blue in the face but it doesn’t have near the impact of a first hand account. The other piece that will be so effective is the support you will provide other survivors. It is very easy (for victims) to feel alone and to think you’re the only person this happened to. As an academic-activist, I can also say that it was very helpful to come across your book as there does not seem to have been much published from a personal account in recent years.” – Dr. Angie Moe, Professor of Sociology, Western Michigan University

“I decided to use Leaving Dorian¬†because it humanizes topics we cover in my class.¬† I always cover topics pertaining to men’s violence against women, and I like to use items that help students better understand these topics in ways that go beyond the sensationalized (and depersonalized) ways in which they typically hear about them.” – Dr. James Sutton, Hobart and William Smith Colleges¬†

“I REALLY liked the book ‚Äď found it very engaging and hard to put down, though it was also painful to read. It‚Äôs the kind of story that a LOT of women can relate to. It is a very fine contribution to the growing body of literature on this horrendous problem of intimate partner abuse.” – Dr. Maureen Hannah, NYS Licensed Psychologist and Professor of Psychology, Siena College