Millersville University’s psychology department and the Millersville Chapter of the Psi Chi International Honor Society will present a panel discussion to honor October as Domestic Violence Awareness month.

On October 13, “The Link Between Domestic Violence, Child Abuse and Animal Cruelty” will aim to raise awareness of the connection between human violence and animal mistreatment. The panel will be held at 7 p.m. in Biemesderfer Concert Hall in the Winter Visual & Performing Arts Center. Multiple national and local speakers within the fields of psychology, public policy and human services will discuss current research, animal law and programs for victims. Prior to the panel, a presentation by Dr. Barbara Boat will take place in Byerly Hall at 4 p.m.

Psi Chi has planned the event in honor of Karlie Hall, a student tragically lost by Millersville last year as a result of domestic violence. Hall was dedicated to helping homeless animals.

“Animal cruelty is something that everyone should take seriously,” said Dr. Debra Vredenburg-Rudy, associate professor of psychology and faculty advisor of Psi Chi. “It should always be included in the discussion of human violence. When the family pet is subjected to abuse or neglect, the children who live in that home are at risk for mistreatment and learn to model the behavior. People need to know that stricter laws that protect animals also protect children in the end.”

Participants at the panel include:

  • Dr. Barbara Boat is a licensed clinical psychologist and an associate professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She is also the executive director of the Childhood Trust at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.
  • Loretta Ann Reider is a resident assistant at Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster County helping victims and their pets. As a survivor of domestic violence, she knows the importance of having a safe haven for victims.
  • Dr. Karen Rice is an associate professor and the chair of the social work department at Millersville University. A licensed social worker in Pennsylvania, Dr. Rice has practiced in the areas of child welfare and adult and juvenile mental health and sexual perpetration. She was a trainer for the Pennsylvania Child Welfare Resource Center where she trained child welfare workers and assisted with the development of curriculum related to the investigation of child abuse and neglect and working with families with substance abuse issues.
  • Sarah Speed, Esq. is the Executive Director of the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee. The House Judiciary Committee is responsible for reviewing all legislation dealing with the crimes code, including animal cruelty. As Pennsylvania State Director, Speed was responsible for shepherding all animal related legislation, trained hundreds of law enforcement officers and volunteers, and managed animal sheltering for disasters and large scale cruelty cases. Sarah is currently President of the Board of the Pennsylvania State Animal Response Team. She is also serving on Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s Agriculture Transition Team.

Both events are free and open to the public.  For more information, contact Dr. Vredenburg-Rudy at

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