'Telling Amy's Story' shown at Ragtag Cinema to promote domestic violence prevention

Thursday, August 12, 2010 | 9:44 p.m. CDT; updated 3:56 p.m. CDT, Friday, August 13, 2010

COLUMBIA — Staff members of Verizon Wireless and True North, a Columbia domestic violence shelter and outreach center, held a special screening of a documentary about domestic violence Thursday night at Ragtag Cinema.

The film, "Telling Amy's Story," was shown to raise awareness on the issue and provide people with information on what they can do to help prevent domestic abuse.

Resources for domestic abuse victims

True North: 875-0503

Hotline: 875-1370

Toll Free: 800-548-2480

The Verizon foundation provided Penn State Public Broadcasting with the funds to produce the documentary, which told the story of a Pennsylvania woman, Amy Homan McGee, who was shot and killed by her husband in their home on Nov. 8, 2001.

McGee, who was an employee of Verizon, had endured abuse by her husband for several years. "Law and Order: Special Victims Unit" actress Mariska Hargitay hosted the documentary.

In the film, Detective Deirdri Fishel recreates the timeline of events that led up to McGee's murder. The film has already aired in 30 states on local PBS stations, but Verizon is partnering with shelters in different regions across the country to show the film and discuss this issue and possible solutions with community members.

Brendan Fallis, president of Verizon in the Kansas/Missouri region, said this is an issue that needs more attention. Verizon covered all the expenses of the showing and also presented True North with a check for $3,000 because of the work it does with domestic abuse victims.

Fallis said Verizon also plans to partner with shelters in Springfield and St. Louis to show the film. Verizon and True North also are working to hold a showing during October, which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, at MU.

"It's a great tool to start a conversation," Fallis said. "This has become our mission to get this word out."

After the viewing, True North's Executive Director Barbara Hodges and Detective Bob Dochler, of Columbia's Domestic Violence Enforcement Unit, answered questions about what could be done in cases of domestic violence to help victims safely escape abusive situations.

Detective Randy Nichols, who is also a part of the enforcement unit, estimated that in Columbia, there is an average of 80 to 100 domestic violence cases each month.

Both detectives said they would like to see the film shown in high schools and incorporated into training for the Columbia Police Department.

Although True North does offer a safe place for domestic violence victims to go, the organization wanted to stress it is more than just a shelter. It has outreach programs to educate college and high school students about domestic violence and offers counseling services to abuse victims.

"Nearly 25 percent of women have been raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner at some point in their lives," according to a pamphlet handed out by True North at the viewing.

One goal of the shelter is to get the community involved with prevention methods.

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