CENTRAL FALLS, R.I. (WPRI) — Dr. Malcolm Astley’s daughter was just 18 years old when she was murdered by her ex-boyfriend.
Since her death, Astley, of Wayland, Mass., has made it his mission to help other teenagers in his daughter’s memory.
“She was known for her spunk and her spirit, her confidence and her independence,” Astley said Wednesday.
Lauren Dunne Astley was murdered on July 3, 2011 by her former boyfriend. He is now serving a life sentence in prison without parole.
Astley said he finds strength in the hope of helping others. He travels around the country, educating young adults about healthy relationships and coping with break-ups.
“There’s a lot coming to light now about it, relationship violence of all kinds,” Astley said. “It’s so good that women are starting to speak out about it, and boys and men are starting to step forward to join with women to deal with this very tough problem.”
The American Psychology Association reports that on an average day, three American woman are murdered by their male partners. Domestic violence in general is a trend that knows no boundaries, according to Somali DaSilva of the Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center.
“We tend to think of it like, ‘That can’t really happen to me, that happens to a certain type of person with a certain background,'” DaSilva said. “We kind of want to get away from that stigma just because it can happen to anyone.”
More than 300 Central Falls 9th and 10th graders attended a presentation by Astley on Wednesday, learning how to have safe break-ups and how to deal with the feels of pain and shame that may arise.
“Me and my best friends are close, so if there’s a problem we talk about it,” Central Falls High School freshman Beatriz Martins said.
Astley said it’s important to have tools to deal with difficult situations such as a break-up.
“To have tools to deal with those hard parts so we don’t fall apart and turn to harming ourselves or harming someone else,” Astley said.