Life experience leads woman to create documentary

Kelli Koch

‘Mending Hands’ tells tales of domestic abuse

Graduate student Alexis Blavos grabs some candy from the Portage Council for the Prevention of Violence booth before the showing of Mending Spirits yesterday. The documentary portrayed several women telling their domestic violence survivor stories. KATI

Credit: Jason Hall

Monica Plunkett knew it was time to leave her boyfriend when emotional abuse turned into physical abuse.

“He slammed me against the door and cut off my airway,” she said. “I left that night.”

After leaving, Plunkett read in a book that the average woman leaves an abusive relationship seven times before she leaves for good.

“I knew I couldn’t go through this six more times,” she said. “If I hadn’t read that, I might have gone back.”

Plunkett’s documentary film, Mending Spirits, is about the emotional journey of women who leave abusive relationships. The movie was shown last night in the Student Center.

The Women’s Resource Center and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Inc. sponsored the event in honor of October as National Domestic Violence Month.

Hilda Pettit, coordinator of the Women’s Resource Center, said domestic violence affects people in different ways.

“There are a lot of different ways to be abused that don’t leave bruises,” she said. “It can be physical, emotional, verbal or economic.”

Plunkett said when she left her relationship, she felt like no one understood what she was going through – except other women who had been through the abuse. In the process of recovery, she came up with the idea for the documentary to help others.

“I had no reference in my life for violence,” she said. “Women need a lot of support when they leave, rather it be from family and friends or support groups and shelters.”

Abuse tends to increase with the relationship, making it harder to walk away. Plunkett said men are usually the model dates in the beginning, and women have a hard time letting go of the man they fell in love with. Moving in together or getting married can take the abuse to a different level.

“Abuse is the need to control,” Plunkett said. “It’s the only thing it’s about, and he knows when you’re committed, it’s harder to walk away.”

One of the women in the film, Constance, attended the event and shared her story because she lived with the abuse for many years, and it took her a long time to get through the pain.

“I wanted to get the message out to a mass of people,” she said. “I am a survivor, and I have finally put that behind me.”

Tasha Edwards, sophomore community health education major, said it’s important to be aware of domestic violence because people are too embarrassed to come out and admit they are abused.

She said she liked how the film used real people and real problems.

“I didn’t know it was a documentary until tonight,” she said. “The reality of the film was excellent.”

Michele Sanders, junior integrated health studies major, said she liked that women from different cultures came together in the film for the same purpose.

“In one way or another, someone is connected to abuse,” she said.

Contact student life reporter Kelli Koch at [email protected].