Candlelight vigil at a previous Take Back the Night event
Candlelight vigil at a previous Take Back the Night event

“Her boyfriend beat her to death.”

Those were the horrific words from a patient’s sister who stopped by P. Gay Baughman’s dental practice to deliver the tragic news several decades ago. 

“I was a young dentist at the time and didn’t know what to do when the patient told me during an appointment prior to her death that she’d been hit by her boyfriend, and ever since I’ve been trying to make amends for what happened,” said Baughman, a professor at the School of Dentistry.

Baughman now teaches dental students to look for signs of domestic partner abuse, educating them to ask questions of patients including whether they feel safe at home, and helping students understand what resources are available to get help quickly for individuals at risk.

Annually, Baughman and a group of dental students, including members of the student chapter of the American Association of Women Dentists, join with the PEACC Center in Take Back the Night activities, an effort to protest sexual and relational violence and honor those who’ve been victimized.

This year, UofL’s Take Back the Night events kick-off with a resource fair April 4 at the Kornhauser Library Auditorium on the Health Sciences Center Campus. Scheduled to begin at 11:30 a.m., the event includes representation from the BRICC Coalition, Health Promotion, PEACC Center, UofL Police Department, Family Scholar House and Center for Women and Families. A workshop begins at noon and will educate participants on how to help a friend who has experienced power-based personal violence. The event also provides an opportunity to honor dental school alumna Claire VanLandingham ’17, who lost her life due to relational violence.

On April 6, a resource fair will be held at the Red Barn Plaza from noon to 2 p.m., followed by the “How to Help a Friend Workshop” at  2 p.m. in the Floyd Theater. Students, faculty and staff also are invited to take part in Chalk the Walk on the Belknap Campus beginning at 1 p.m. A virtual Take Back the Night tribute begins at 7 p.m. on Microsoft Teams. Learn more on the UofL Event calendar.

“If every student is equipped to help one person, what a difference that would make,” Baughman said.