NEWINGTON – Members of the Newington community shared their stories of domestic violence and discussed ways to prevent it Thursday night at Town Hall.
The community discussion was held on the heels of last week’s shooting on Gilbert Road. Patricia Torbicki was found shot dead in her front door at the family’s home around 9 a.m. Sept. 21. Michael Torbicki, Patricia’s husband, was found seriously injured from a gunshot wound about three hours later. Nearly immediately, police called Patricia Torbicki’s death a homicide and named her husband as a suspect.
The group did not discuss last week’s incident, though, instead focusing on ways to help victims of domestic abuse and sharing their stories.
Sarah Gallardo, founder of the Newington-based domestic violence awareness advocacy group Sarah Speaks Up, hosted Thursday’s discussion.
“I am a domestic violence survivor. I was with my ex-husband – being abused – over a span of ten years, and I experienced sort of the gambit of abuse … from reproductive to financial abuse,” Gallardo said to the group of men and women. “I was actually shot at on one occasion. So these kinds of things are very near and dear to my heart.”
Gallardo said following her abuse, she went to a support group at the Prudence Crandall Center in New Britain. Eventually taking over the support group as a support group leader, Gallardo has been reaching out to fellow survivors of domestic abuse, sharing her story and getting help for those who need it.
Audrey Carlson spoke about how her family overcame domestic abuse after her daughter was killed by an ex-boyfriend in 2002.
“It was the same case where you think it’s something you’d see in a Lifetime movie but it happens to somebody else,” Carlson explained. “It can happen to anybody, anytime, anywhere. It doesn’t matter where you live, it doesn’t matter who you are, it happens.”
Carlson said her daughter’s story was a classic case of “if I can’t have her, nobody can,” explaining that her daughter’s ex-boyfriend invaded their home and shot her dead.
Now, Carlson goes to schools and talks to young people about the signs of domestic violence and the importance of speaking up.
“If something doesn’t feel right in your gut, it’s not right,” Carlson said, reciting what she explains to students.
Next week, the Prudence Crandall Center will hold its annual candlelight vigil to remember victims of domestic violence in Connecticut. Survivors of domestic violence will share their stories and the names of people who lost their lives due to domestic violence last year in the state will be read at this year’s “Silent No More” candlelight vigil.
The event, which falls in Domestic Violence Awareness Month, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 4 of the front steps of the Prudence Crandall Center, 594 Burritt St.
Lisa Backus contributed to this story.
Skyler Frazer can be reached at 860-801-5087 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.