Emily M. Kochanek – News Editor
Domestic violence activist and speaker Malcolm Astley spoke to students earlier this month in deWitt Hall about the internal conflicts males face that lead to domestic violence. The event was sponsored by Professor Sharyn Lowenstein’s Emerging Leaders Honors class.
Malcolm Astley, who has numerous degrees in education and counseling, spoke about the repercussions of his daughter’s death. Lauren Dunne Astley was murdered by her former boyfriend on July 3, 2011, not long after she graduated from high school. In her honor, Astley and his wife now tour nationally, speaking about domestic violence and the steps needed to reverse domestic violence through the Lauren Dunne Astley Memorial Fund.
“I have hard things to talk about this evening,” said Astley. The father and academic continued, stressing the importance of educating men about confronting and dealing with their emotions. Astley said that American culture is “grooming boys and men [to] see girls as objects.” The narrow gender roles that are forced upon men leave them without the proper skills to cope with feelings and relationships. Relationship and breakups, as in the case with Lauren, can become dangerous when men are unable to express themselves without using violence.
However, Astley said that learning how to grieve properly after a relationship as well as accepting that “life is full of rejection” can better relationships in the future as well as gain self-respect. “It takes more courage to care,” Astley said, as he explained if a couple breaks up, loving and caring for the other is allowing them to find a “better fit.”
“In the end, it’s beneficial for all of us,” said Astley, referencing bettering violence education as well as giving emotional support to those who need it. “We need to look under the anger,” said Astley.
“I think it was really powerful,” said sophomore Kristina Gimenez. Gimenez said the most important
thing she learned was establishing support systems for herself and her friends.
“If you are going to care, you are going to feel pain,” said Astley. But learning how to move forward, he said, is part of the process and healthy.