Shrewsbury library exhibit raises awareness about domestic violence

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Shrewsbury library exhibit raises awareness about domestic violence
Julie Nason and Janet Trippi stand next to the exhibit “An Empty Place at the Table.” (Photo/Laura Hayes)

SHREWSBURY – A table with eight empty place settings has recently stood in the entrance of the Shrewsbury Public Library. 

It’s part of an exhibit called “An Empty Place at the Table,” which works to memorialize and honor the men, women and children who have died in the past year due to domestic violence.

“At this time of year when we have a lot of high holidays — like Easter, Passover, Eid — we wanted to particularly remember the people who are not on the table because of dying, because of domestic violence,” the Against Domestic Violence in Shrewsbury Education (ADVISE) project’s Julie Nason said on Friday. 

“It’s kind of a chilling and stark reminder of the families’ lives who have been interrupted, the person who’s gone, who’s missing, who’s no longer here and the impact that it has in the families and community in which we live,” she continued. 

An Empty Place at the Table is a traveling exhibit that was lent to ADVISE by the YWCA. However, this is not the first time that it has been displayed by ADVISE.

The group has set up the exhibit at other places around town, including the library, Shrewsbury High School, the Senior Center and various churches. 

Each plate had a name on it, including that of Saharbanoo Rindani, 76, of Westborough, who was found dead in her home last year. 

Her husband, Abdal Rindani, was later charged with attempted murder and strangulation. 

“The whole main purpose is to make people aware,” said ADVISE’s Janet Trippi. “It’s a great educational tool simply because it’s right in your face — look, this person is not going to be at our table next time or any time.” 

When people realize what the display is, they take a step back, Trippi said. 

“This type of thing isn’t brought out in public,” Trippi said.

Just this week, Nason said, a group of students visiting the library stopped to look at the display. The kids were “shocked” and “stunned” about what the exhibit was about, but they didn’t shy away from discussing it and expressing their anger at the abusers’ actions.

“It’s about having a public conversation,” Nason said. 

Silence and shame empowers perpetrators, she continued.

As such, as Trippi described it, one purpose of the display involves publicizing the fact that there are also resources and help available to those in domestic violence situations. 

“When we bring it up, then more people are empowered to speak about it,” Nason said. “Maybe one person who is here today…will think about their friends, who may be in situations of dating violence.” 

The exhibit is on display again today from 10 a.m. to noon.

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