Emily Goldberg, Staff Writer

There wasn’t a dry eye in the theatre on Saturday after many students and Lakeland residents heard the story of “The Yellow Dress.”

Florida Southern’s psychology department brought in Heather’s Hope, a foundation that raises public awareness about the tragedy of domestic violence, to perform the one-woman show entitled, “The Yellow Dress.”

The story follows Anna, a young woman who falls in love, and soon becomes victim to dating violence. It mirrors the tribulations some face in trying to escape a dangerous relationship and informs those who may know someone who is suffering by explaining how they can help.

The theatre was filled with many of the sisters of Alpha Chi Omega, who work to promote domestic violence awareness, and even some who share a similar story to Anna. Among those was sophomore, Libby Erdelac.

“Being a victim of domestic violence myself, you don’t know when you’re actually being put through it until it’s often too late,” Erdelac said. “You often stick up for your abuser, which she described.”

The play is comprised of a series of flashbacks. Anna begins by asking the audience what dress she should wear to her school dance that night.  As it progresses, the audience hears her recount her horrific backstory of her battle with her boyfriend, Rick. It takes a dramatic turn when Anna walks out at the end in a yellow dress covered in blood. In the end she dies and the entire play was being told by her soul.

Many middle school and high school principals in Polk County are forbidding the performance of “The Yellow Dress” in their schools on the account that domestic violence is “not much of a problem.”

“High school is where it starts.  When a girl or guy is going through high school, their brain is still developing and if they’re put through a relationship where they think being hit or being called names is okay, they’ll go their whole life thinking that’s just part of a relationship,” Erdelac said.

“The Yellow Dress” play has been performed for, on average, half a million people since it first came out in 1995, but it still struggles to reach the young audience here in Lakeland.

“Just like alcohol and drugs are present in high schools, domestic violence is there, it just is seen as not that big of an issue, where it could lead to the same things as alcohol and drugs do,” Erdelac said.

The night ended with a question and answer session with the women of Heather’s Hope. Topics that were discussed were, how to recognize early warning signs of abuse, the vicious cycle of abuse and how to access resources in the community. Anna’s story touched the lives of the Lakeland community.

For help regarding domestic violence, contact Peace River Center in Lakeland, an Alpha Chi Omega sister, or call the confidential National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.


Image from evfdesigns.com