Tom Santoro’s presentation “Dear Lisa” will take place at noon Thursday, Oct. 4, in North Central’s Meiley-Swallow Hall, 31 S. Ellsworth St., Naperville. This event is open to the public and presented by the College’s ’s Dyson Wellness Center and Peer Health Educators.
“There is so much pressure on young adults to be in relationships and we find reasons to stay with our partners, whether the relationship is healthy or not,” said Nicole Perelgut, a licensed counselor with Dyson Wellness Center.
Santoro’s 18-year-old daughter, Lisa, was murdered by her ex-boyfriend in 1994. She was a resident of Cicero, had just graduated from Nazareth Academy in LaGrange Park and was about to begin studies at the University of Iowa. An assistant state’s attorney testified during her killer’s trial that Lisa’s ex-boyfriend believed that “if I can’t have her, no one can.”
Since the incident, Santoro has committed himself to telling the story of his daughter’s ordeal in order to educate students about detecting and addressing issues pertaining to abusive relationships. Over the years, he has spoken to more than 200,000 students and teachers and visited more than 200 colleges and high schools across the country. He has been highlighted by WBBM-TV in Chicago as “Someone You Should Know” and has appeared on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” where Winfrey said he is a “father who keeps his daughter’s spirit alive.”
In his presentation, Santoro divides dating violence into four categories: verbal, emotional, physical, and sexual, stressing that abuse can come in various forms.
“Domestic Violence is more common than most us think, which means if it is not happening to you, it is likely that it is happening to someone you know,” Perelgut said.
The Peer Health Educators at North Central College, who have organized this event, are full-time students dedicated to promoting health and wellness across the campus. Peer Health Educators receive comprehensive training and certification enabling them to assist the Dyson Wellness Center staff in providing health and wellness education to fellow students.