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Performance Artist Puts a Face on Domestic Violence in Chappaqua

CHAPPAQUA, N.Y. – Actress, filmmaker and domestic abuse survivor Lisa Regina was the featured speaker Thursday at the annual fundraising luncheon for Hope's Door, a Pleasantville-based organization that provides emergency shelter, counseling and legal advocacy services for victims of domestic abuse.

The event drew an estimated 135 people to Crabtree's Kittle House in Chappaqua, including Westchester County Legislators Ken Jenkins, Mary Jane Shimsky and Peter Harckham, along with Assemblyman Robert Castelli.

Regina's case of domestic abuse made national headlines in 2005 when her then-fiancée, Soprano's actor Vincent Pastore, was arrested and charged with attempted assault for violently attacking her and throwing her from a moving car. He later pleaded guilty to the charges.

"Our emotions are often bottled up inside us and become part of a heavy unhappiness within us," said Regina, who uses performance art and writing as ways to heal from her own domestic abuse. During her performance Thursday, Regina used poetry and shouted at her "abuser" in a rant that left her choking back tears several times during her short show.

In 2010, there were 12,971 incidents of domestic abuse reported to police in Westchester County, according to Hope's Door – 118 of them were in Bedford, 149 in Mount Kisco and Pleasantville, 271 in Harrison, 90 in New Castle and 67 in Pound Ridge.

CarlLa Horton, executive director of Hope's Door, told those who gathered Thursday, "No town in our county is immune from domestic violence. Across the United States there has been a 73 percent increase in domestic abuse, most of that is directly attributable to the recession and joblessness."

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. "Odds are you know someone who has been abused," said Horton, who says domestic abuse crosses all races and economic lines. "Just last week I started my day with a woman who earned just under $10 an hour and ended it with a woman whose husband's adjusted gross earnings topped over $8 million."

Hope's Door operates a 24-hour hotline (888) 438-8700.

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