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Published on October 10, 2019

Alyssiah Wiley Basketball Tournament Aims to End Relationship Violence

Table one of the "journey to awareness" was dedicated to Wiley's memory.

Wilye's mother, Corrina Martin, speaks during the tournament's intermission.

Students host tables in the Student Center that quiz passersby about their knowledge of relationship abuse.

Corrina Martin poses for a photo with the tournament's winning team.

The student organization Fashion Forward put on a mini fashion show.

Eastern graduate Ashon Avent served as master of ceremonies.

Eastern Connecticut State University hosted a 3-on-3 basketball tournament on Oct. 9 to honor former student Alyssiah Wiley. The event featured an array of activities aimed at raising awareness of relationship, dating and intimate partner violence—Wiley was an Eastern student in 2013 when she was murdered by her boyfriend.

Wiley’s mother, Corrina Martin, spoke at the event. She is the founder and president of the nonprofit organization Mothers of Victim Equality. Throughout the afternoon, informational tables were laid out in the Student Center to create a “journey to awareness” and the Sports Center lobby was lined with resource tables.

To honor Wiley’s reputation as a fashionista, the event also featured makeup demonstrations and a mini fashion show by the student organization Fashion Forward, aimed at female empowerment.

Event organizer Brenda Westberry, a lecturer in the sociology program, said that men were a target audience for awareness-raising event. While both men and women are victims of relationship abuse, national statistics indicate that males perpetrate intimate/sexual violence at a far greater rate than their female counterparts.

The College Dating and Abuse Poll shows that girls and women between the ages of 16–24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence—nearly triple the national average. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2018 National Crime Victimization Survey indicates that violent crime is a growing problem, with an increase from 2.7 million reported incidents in 2015 to 3.3 million incidents in 2018. In that time, the number of victims of rape or sexual assault rose from 204,000 to 347,000.

Brenda Westberry (left) introduces Corrina Martin and her family during the opening ceremony.

he student organization Fashion Forward put on a mini fashion show.

Students hosted resource tables in the Sports Center lobby.

“I’m talking to the males in the room,” said Martin during the tournament’s intermission. Martin has lost two daughters and a granddaughter to abusive male partners. “The hardest thing a parent can do is bury their child. Even harder is when you don’t have a child to bury,” she said, referring to the disappearance and dismemberment of Wiley. 

Martin called for men to be sensitive, informed partners. “Take a stand. Don’t worry about masculinity or coming off as weak. Worry about being a good partner.” She added, “Don’t just play this game (basketball). Visit the tables, learn the signs, be proactive. If nothing else, learn the signs of relationship violence.”

One initiative of Mothers of Victim Equality is to implement a national violent offenders registry. Martin said that one of her daughters’ murderers had a record in one state but not in Connecticut. “We need a national registry, not just individual states,” she said. People’s interested in signing a petition in support of a national registry can visit www.change.org and search “National Violent Offenders Registry.”

Throughout the tournament, students perused tables, learned about the local sexual assault hotline (1-888-999-5545), reviewed offerings at Eastern’s Women’s Center and explored other resources. They learned about Wiley, a psychology major who went by the nickname “Lele.” With the influence of social media and cell phones, they learned about the subtleties of digital abuse. Participants also wrote letters to survivors of domestic violence. A quiet room in the Student Center was reserved for a labyrinth where visitors could contemplate and reflect.

Event organizers and Wiley’s family hope to make the Alyssiah Wiley End Relationship Violence Basketball Tournament an annual event. Sponsors included the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Criminology and Social Work and the Office of Equity and Diversity.

Written by Michael Rouleau