In the presentation, "Her-Self Awareness Lecture" Donna Cimarelli, a Connecticut resident and CEO-Founder of the Maren Sanchez Home Foundation, trains girls and young women on how to recognize potentially dangerous situations in their relationships.
The goal is to teach them how to trust and follow their instincts or pay attention to "that gut feeling" and be able to identify "pre-incident indicators" before something violent happens.
Cimarelli's daughter Maren Victoria Sanchez was 16 when she was stabbed to death in the hallway of Jonathan Law High School by Christopher Plaskon on April 25, 2014. He was later convicted of the killing and sentenced to 25 years in prison.
She spoke recently to about 50 people at Wilton Library. The town's chief of police was present along with a police officer who was present the day her daughter was killed, along with friends and members of the Milford community, as well as parents and women and girls from Wilton and the surrounding towns.
"Manipulation in young women is big. Manipulation definitely is the beginning of domestic violence. People get into tumultuous (relationships). It doesn't start that way," Cimarelli said in an interview.
Examples of signs someone is trying to manipulate you include saying you spend too much time with your family or not to wear a certain outfit. "It's not that you're on that first date and he's beating you up," she noted.
Her daughter was not dating the boy who killed her but they were in a "strange friendship," her mother said. "There was manipulation."
The focus is to teach young women what manipulation means, how it feels, and what it looks like, to show girls and young women how to see the signs of "red flags of danger," Cimarelli said. The last part is "following your intuition and knowing what that is and respecting that. It is 99 percent right."
A young person can certainly understand the feelings of intimidation and intuition and should be taught to recognize the signs as children.
"In her presentations, the goal is to get young women comfortable with saying, "No," as a complete sentence.
"I spoke with one of my daughter's teachers last night. She told me ever since my daughter's incident she tells her four-year-old daughter, 'If you want to say no, you can.' "Young girls will understand they have the power."
Click here for information about the Maren Sanchez Foundation. To arrange for Donna Cimarelli to speak in your community, call her at 203-331-6180