Johana Vazquez News Editor
On Oct. 7, Celia Aniskovich, director and producer of “There’s No Winning at Murder,” spoke and answered students’ questions in the STU Theatre about the documentary episode and domestic violence.
The documentary revolves around Corrinna Martin, a single mother of four girls, who lost two of her children and a grandchild to two different domestic violence cases. One of the girls, Alyssiah Wiley, was an Eastern student in 2013 at the time of her disappearance and murder. Martin went through three trials for the court to charge Alyssiah Wiley’s boyfriend, Jermaine Richards, with her murder. In between the second and third trial, Martin lost her eldest daughter, Chaquinequea, or Nequea, Brodie and granddaughter, My’Jaeaha Richardson, to a homicide committed by Nequea’s boyfriend of four months, Anthony Rutherford.
Eastern had a special screening of Aniskovich’s documentary Oct. 1 in four separate locations on campus due to limited Covid-19 capacities. Wiley, Alyssiah’s mother, made an appearance at the screening and shared beforehand a two-minute video she produced on domestic violence. The documentary aired the same night on Investigation Discovery Channel’s “Impact of Murder” series.
Aniskovich is the first University Hour guest speaker of the fall semester. Having worked on big streaming series like Netflix’s “How to Fix a Drug Scandal” and “Fear City: New York vs The Mafia,” Aniskovich chose to film this documentary episode because it meant something to her. As a Connecticut native, she was shocked to find out about The Wiley’s story and was immediately interested when the idea was suggested to her by a coworker.
At the event, the NY-based filmmaker detailed working on documentaries. Aniskovich strives to know what the subject of her film hopes to attain from the film. To her, asking someone to share their story is “asking them to give you the only thing that is theirs and their alone,” said Aniskovich. She strives to “elevate” the voices of her subjects and never distract with her own voice.
She wanted to make “There’s No Winning in Murder” with Corrinna Martin’s voice front and center. “Black women’s voices don’t have longevity. They’re forgotten,” Aniskovich recalled Martin telling her in the beginning stages of the film. She made an example of Breonna Taylor, the louisville woman who was shot in her apartment by policemen that have yet to be charged with her murder. For Martin, this project was about education and making sure a tragedy such as she experienced does not happen to the next person, the next mother.
Towards the end of her talk, Aniskovich shared striking statistics about domestic violence. On average, 20 people per minute are physically abused by their partners in the U.S. 1 in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner. On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 calls sent to hotlines nationwide related to domestic violence. The risk of homicide increases by 500% when a gun is present during a domestic violence case. Women between the ages of 18-24 are the most commonly abused by an intimate partner. 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year. 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have experienced some sort of physical violence from partners.
There has been a significant decrease in calls to domestic violence help hotlines due to Covid-related mandates and stay-at-home orders. Martin and Aniskovich believe this has to do with women being stuck at home with their abusers and the inability to reach out for help. “Domestic violence is an epidemic we have known about for far longer that we have chosen to ignore,” said Aniskovich.
Corrinna Martin has taken it upon herself to continue working for a non-profit she founded with Nequea, before her passing, to combat domestic violence. Her program, Mothers of Victim Equality Incorporated (MOVE Inc.), to help women identify violence in relationships and how to get out of them. She also created a petition for the National Violent Offenders Registry to go in effect to further prevent domestic violence before it happens.
“Domestic violence is an issue that everyone should care about. It affects all of us,” said Aniskovich when asked what was the biggest takeaway for students watching the documentary should be, “Education is key. There are things we can do to prevent domestic violence.”