Daybreak shines a light on domestic violence

Women’s Words Week events raise funds and awareness

By Ellie Castano

UMass Medical School Communications

April 27, 2011

Author Tess Gerritsen, MD, will be the featured guest at the Women Authors Event on May 2.

Domestic violence is a major public health concern—every year, approximately 1.3 million women are physically assaulted by a domestic partner, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. In Worcester alone, nearly 3,500 domestic incidents were reported in the 12-month period ending September 2010. 

An essential local resource for individuals living with domestic violence is Daybreak, a service of the YWCA of Central Massachusetts. Women’s Words Week, a series of events aimed at raising awareness about the issue of domestic violence and raising funds to support Daybreak, will take place at area colleges including UMass Medical School, Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Worcester State University in the coming weeks.

The central event of Women’s Words Week is the Women Authors Event featuring Tess Gerritsen, which will take place at UMMS on Monday, May 2. An internationally acclaimed writer of medical mystery novels, many of which have appeared on the New York Times bestseller lists, Gerritsen is herself a physician who began her writing career after leaving a successful practice as an internist to raise her children. Her works include Harvest, The Keepsake, The Mephisto Club, Vanish Body Double and The Bone Garden. Two of her characters are the basis for the new TNT television series Rizzoli and Isles. With her medical background, Gerritson excels at translating complex medical science for lay readers; her work has been praised by bestselling authors Stephen King and James Patterson. She also lectures at science education events and teaches a writing course for physicians who want to become novelists.

Women Authors Evening is being hosted by the UMass Medical School Professional Women’s Committee Women’s Leadership Work Group on May 2, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. in the Faculty Conference Room. Tickets are $30, with proceeds benefitting Daybreak. Free parking is available. For additional information, contact Nellie Toney at 508-856-2467 or at

Other Women’s Words Week events include Women’s Words Art Exhibit, which features the work of area women artists, some well known and some who are just getting started. The exhibit runs from April 15 through May 15 in the Lamar Soutter Library. Women’s Words Week also includes the Writer’s Workshop, which will connect evolving writers with writing experts and publishing resources. The workshop is hosted by Worcester Polytechnic Institute on Saturday, April 30, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in Kinnicutt Hall. Admission is $55 ($25 for students) and includes breakfast and lunch. On Thursday, May 5, Worcester State University will host the Women and Film Celebration, which features local filmmaker Laurie Kahn and her film TUPPERWARE!, a humorous look at a lost slice of American history. The event will be held in Ghosh & Tech Room at Worcester State University, with the film screening at 6 p.m., followed by a conversation with filmmaker Kahn at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20.

For more information about Women’s Words Week, visit Women’s Words Week is presented by Women Authors in New England. 

Jean King, PhD, vice chair of psychiatry research and professor of psychiatry, chairs the Women’s Words Week committee and is a longtime member of the YWCA of Central Massachusetts board. She also chaired the Standing Committee for Daybreak Resources for more than a decade and works with other Daybreak volunteers to ensure that the shelter and court advocacy programs are secured. In this video, she talks about the relationship between UMMS and Daybreak and her personal passion for the organization and the life-saving work it does.


Women Authors Event Committee
  • Jean King, PhD, chair
  • Maryellen Collins, honorary co-chair
  • Kye Flotte, honorary co-chair 

  • Lisa Beittel, assistant dean for administration and chief of staff, Office of the Dean 
    Yvette Gonzalez, administrative assistant, Center for Comparative NeuroImaging, Department of Psychiatry
  • Elaine Martin, DA, director, Lamar Soutter Library
  • Judith Ockene, professor of medicine and division chief, Preventive and Behavioral Medicine
  • Debra Plummer, PhD, associate vice chancellor, Diversity and Equal Opportunity Office
  • Nellie Toney, coordinator, Diversity and Equal Opportunity Office
  • Jennifer Wu, associate director of communications, Department of Psychiatry 

About Daybreak 

Daybreak has developed a comprehensive domestic violence program that encompasses a service delivery system that can respond to victims of domestic violence effectively and efficiently. The design of each component is intended to address specific areas in the continuum of domestic violence services ranging from emergency shelter for women and children fleeing from imminent danger to non-residential community-based services, advocacy and support. It strives to address all forms of domestic violence. For more information, visit

Related link: 

Women’s Words Art Exhibit showcases local women artists