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Lauralee Solimeno begins the discussion by talking about her own experience living with domestic violence. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

This year’s honors program “Food for Thought” series began on Sept. 19 with a seminar on domestic violence awareness: “Out of the Night – When it is Dark Enough You Can See The Stars.” The hosted series is generated by students. This particular seminar gave great insights on domestic violence.

Lauralee Solimeno ran the presentation. In 2015, she was living in an abusive relationship. She tried to ignore it, but her children reported the experiences to their school teachers. Solimeno received references and resources to leave an awful situation. With these resources, she was able to escape with her children. After she was able to find a job and a place to live, she found a coping mechanism in painting, something she had never done before.

One in three women and one in four men have experienced domestic violence within the United States, equating to more than 12 million people every year.

While in an art class, Solimeno met other women with similar experiences. They too had turned to painting to help them deal with their situation.

Tami Havey, a friend of Solimeno, had an ex-husband that psychologically abused her until she felt insane. She went to doctor after doctor, attempting to diagnose her psychological abuse. She suffered from severe depression and engaged in physically and emotionally harmful behavior.

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Discussion of domestic violence awareness. (Joshua Wineholt / The Signpost)

“Art is how I feel right with myself – no longer a victim but a survivor. No one should ever be made to feel less than what they are,” said Caitlin Stuckey, who also met Solimeno through her art class.

Nola Hitchcock Spicer grew up with a physically abusive step father. When she got married, she had children quickly. Her husband had an accident that left him with non-military PTSD. Because he couldn’t handle it, he physically abused her and had affairs throughout their marriage. When the abuse turned to her children, she knew she needed to leave.

She got an attorney and was finally able to procure a restraining order after three years of police calls about the harassment. Her ex-husband broke into her house, would follow her and call repeatedly during a two-hour period. She was forced to attend church with two police officers escorting her and her children.

“These are my sisters in sorrow,” Spicer said.

Weber County has the highest rate of domestic violence in Utah. Staying informed and keeping oneself educated is important for staying in safe situations and making smart decisions.

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