Film on domestic violence offered by Howard center

March 28, 1994|By Ivan Penn | Ivan Penn,Sun Staff Writer

The Oscar-winning film "Defending Our Lives," a documentary about several women imprisoned for killing their abusers, will be made available free to community groups through the Domestic Violence Center of Howard County.

The 41-minute film, which won this year's award for Best Documentary Short Subject, recounts the real-life stories of a group of women who were sentenced to a Massachusetts prison for killing the men who abused them.

Workers at the Columbia-based Domestic Violence Center said they believe the film is important to the community because it uses the personal testimonies of the women to expose the "magnitude and severity of domestic violence in this country."

"Our feeling is that you have to get the word out," said Stephanie Sites, the center's executive director. "When the word gets out, you break the veil of silence. . . . If I had a nickel for every woman who says they felt they were the only one, we would be a very rich organization."

Stacey Kabat, a human-rights worker in a Roxbury, Mass., women's shelter and co-director of the film, wanted to make the stories of abused women known throughout America. The 30-year-old activist joined with two filmmakers -- Margaret Lazarus and Renner Wunderlich -- to co-produce the film.

The film will be available for loan in about two weeks. Church and community groups or other organizations can borrow it. Representatives from the Domestic Violence Center also are available to speak to groups about domestic violence.

"We've spoken to groups as small as five people and as large as 500," Ms. Sites said. "You always get at least one or two people who say, 'This is happening in my family.' "

The center has about 50 films that can be borrowed as part of its community outreach program.

From the beginning of this fiscal year, which started July 1, 1993, until the end of last month, the center sheltered 45 women and 76 children who were victims of domestic violence.

In Howard County, domestic violence has been one of the leading causes of homelessness, according to the Howard County Department of Citizens Services.

To borrow the film, contact the Domestic Violence Center office at 997-0304. Victims of domestic violence can call the center's hot line at 997-2272.

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