University of New Haven Hosts “Her-Self” Event

Lindsey Scalabrino, Contributing Writer

On Wednesday, Oct. 3, the university hosted an event by the Maren Sanchez Home Foundation. The foundation was created to empower and teach girls how to defend against manipulation. The foundation is named for Maren Sanchez, a Connecticut teen who was stabbed to death after she rejected his invitation to prom.

The presentation explored Sanchez’s life, starting from before she was born when her mother already knew she was going to be special. Her mother said her daughter had a spirited and warm personality she struck people as a responsible, and loving girl.

“I thought to myself, gosh I want to be like her someday,” her mother Donna Cimarelli said during the presentation.

However, Sanchez could not prevent the fatal attack when she was just 16 years old.

There were events leading up to her death that Cimarelli now looks back on and sees signs that her daughter had been emotionally manipulated for months leading up to her death; it’s something Cimarelli refers to as “pre-incident indicators.” The killer would threaten to go off of his medication, showed up outside her house, and brought a knife to school. All that stands out now, Cimarelli said, but at the time they were red flags in Sanchez and her mother’s mind. Cimarelli said to trust those flags, above all.

The Maren Sanchez Home Foundation, named in part after the song “Home” Sanchez once sang in front of her school, urges young women to use their intuition for their own security, and remain vigilant with the safety of their friends.

“Your friends could be in trouble and they don’t even know it,” Cimarelli said.

The Maren Sanchez Home Foundation’s mission goes beyond vigilance and places emphasis on action as well. Self-defense courses are available to students for free in the Rec Center.

Cimarelli says she can never really know, but she’d like to think that if Sanchez had known self-defense, she might have been able to protect herself against her attacker. She does not want any other victim or family member to have to ask that question.