Conference stresses relationship abuse isn't just an urban problem

PLATTSBURGH - Paul Henry Danylewich's motivation as a public speaker is simple: to make young women aware abusive relationships are possible and they don't have to live with them.

Danylewich's message was heard by approximately 200 area high school girls at the first annual Plattsburgh Girl Conference Nov. 3, held at the Senior Citizens Council of Clinton County Senior Center. Students from Beekmantown, Chateaugay, Crown Point, Lake Placid, North Wood, Keene Valley and Willsboro high schools were bussed in for the day-long event brought to Plattsburgh by the Montreal speaker.

"We wanted to make young women aware of the fact these things are happening," said Danylewich, who serves as director of White Tiger, a professional security consulting group that specializes in personal safety. "We wanted to debunk the myth some people have that this happens only in bigger cities. It can happen anywhere."

Danylewich said he was inspired to start the Girl Conference Series as a way to commemorate the lives of 14 young women shot Dec. 6, 1989, in Montreal's cole Polytechnique Massacre. The women were murdered by Marc L pine, who blamed women for him not being accepted into the engineering school. L pine went into a school and separated the women and the men in the classroom and executed the young women before committing suicide.

After the shootings, Canada recognized the day to remember the victims but Danylewich said just having a day to remember the loss of the female students wasn't enough, he wanted to work on preventative training for young women.

"It's important to commemorate them, but also to use their story to proactively educate others," said Danylewich. "We wanted to turn that terrible day into something good."

The Nov. 3 conference included self-defense demonstrations by Mya Khan and musical performances by Canadian artists Shaharah and Anastasia, testimonies of young women who have been in abusive relationships.

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