Family lawyer works to fight domestic violence

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Nearly one in four college women in the U.S. have either been raped or suffered an attempted rape.

Just this month, the U.S. Department of Education released the names of 55 colleges and universities — including Guilford College in Greensboro and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — that are under investigation for their handling of sexual assault complaints.

Charles R. Ullman, a family lawyer in Raleigh who sees a lot of clients who are victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, is trying to raise awareness on college campuses about the issue, and to raise money and in-kind support for nonprofits that support victims.

“In my daily work, I have seen the harms wrought by domestic violence and wanted to find a way to reduce the number of victims,” Ullman says.

Earlier this year, Ullman asked Consultwebs, a Raleigh-based web marketing firm for law firms that designed its website, to develop a charitable initiative for him.

Marjorie Marr, a consultant at the firm, worked with Ullman to develop Fraternities4Family, an effort that recruits fraternities on campuses to educate their peers about sexual assault and domestic violence, and to raise support for local nonprofits that provide services and shelter to victims.

Marr contacted campus interfraternal groups, which suggested campus fraternities that might be interested in participating. She enlisted one fraternity at each of five schools — Duke University, Elizabeth City State University, Elon University, North Carolina State University and Winston-Salem State University.

She also invited five domestic-violence nonprofits to participate and paired each fraternity with a nonprofit.

Consultwebs and Ullman created a web page for Fraternities4Family at Charles R. Ullman & Associates, and individual pages for each fraternity, as well as pages with information about domestic violence in North Carolina, and about domestic violence resources for students.

Phi Gamma Delta fraternity at NCSU collected 6,100 items — from cleaning products and linens to food and baby formula — worth an estimated $25,000, and donated it to the Durham Crisis Response Center.

“When we get those types of donations, especially at that scale, we don’t have to go out and purchase those things,” says Tammy Donald, director of marketing and project development at the nonprofit, which serves about 4,000 people a year, providing counseling, support and shelter services for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Ullman and members of the fraternity donated another $1,000, and four fraternity members volunteered 12 hours each, at the agency’s golf event at Crossings in Durham in April that raised another $25,000.

And the fraternity sponsored an event on May 20 at Gregoria’s Restaurant in Durham to raise money for a building fund at the agency to expand its 17-bed shelter.

With limited capacity, Donald says, the shelter has to turn people away and try to help them find other shelters.

At Duke, Phi Delta Theta hosted an event in April at Devine Grill & Sports in Durham that raised $1,000 for Families Living Violence Free, a nonprofit in Oxford.

Fraternities4Family already has signed up fraternities at 10 more schools to participate next year, Ullman says.

“I believe that men are essential to ending this type of violence,” he says. “That’s why I decided to work with fraternities.”

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