Taking Control

Simmons has updated its widely used online training about domestic violence.

The School of Social Work launched the third edition of its nationally recognized Simmons Domestic Violence Online Training at a special event on campus on October 4. It coincided with the 30th anniversary of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, as well as the annual Clothesline Project program and installation.

The launch event, “Our History, Our Future: Community Approaches to Domestic Violence Advocacy and Education,” featured remarks by Massachusetts Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, and a discussion among national experts. Panelists represented public and non-profit organizations and agencies working to create resources and provide advocacy for survivors of domestic violence.

Simmons’ free online training provides an overview of essential knowledge about domestic violence. Originally geared toward social workers, the new edition reflects the fact that human service providers, first responders, and other professionals have also been using the course.

“It’s a starting point in what should be a lifetime pursuit of education about domestic violence.” —Associate Professor Kristie Thomas

“The training was developed in 2002 by Dr. Ann Fleck Henderson, professor emerita, and was the very first of its kind in the country,” says Associate Professor Kristie Thomas, who led the redesign. “For the past two years, I’ve worked with a team of fabulous community stakeholders to update and reimagine the training.”

Thomas explains that the training is grounded in knowledge acquired through decades of advocacy and research. The new edition incorporates current empirical evidence, which keeps changing. “It’s a starting point in what should be a lifetime pursuit of education about domestic violence,” says Thomas.

One of the panelists at “Our History, Our Future” in October was Debra Robbin, executive director of Jane Doe, Inc. “The depth and breadth of this online training provides a substantial contribution to the work and provides an opportunity for people in various fields to be prepared to support survivors,” says Robbin. For more information, visit the Simmons Domestic Violence Online Training.

The Clothesline Project

Simmons’ annual Clothesline Project event included an installation of hand-decorated colored T-shirts representing personal experiences with violence, as well as messages of strength. The program honors the memory of Elizabeth “Betsy” McCandless ’71 and others whose lives have been lost or impacted due to domestic violence and sexual assault.

Each T-shirt is color-coded to represent either someone who lost their life to violence, or a survivor’s experience with sexual assault, incest, domestic violence, stalking, homophobia, or transphobia:

Yellow or Beige: Survivors who have been abused or assaulted. Red, Pink, or Orange: Survivors who have been raped or sexually assaulted. Blue or Green: Survivors of incest or child abuse. Purple or Lavender: Survivors of homophobia or transphobia, based on their sexuality or gender identity. White: People who have lost their lives to violence.

Betsy McCandless’ brother, Steve McCandless, an honorary trustee of Simmons, has dedicated time and financial support to spreading awareness about gender-based violence within the Simmons community through the Betsy’s Friends Peer Education Program.