By Jack Pockl, Reporter
On December 14, Dr. Gary Cuccia who lost his daughter, Demi Cuccia, to domestic dating violence, informed students and staff about his daughter’s experience of domestic violence in her high school relationship.
Demi Cuccia was stabbed 16 times to her death by her boyfriend, John Mullarkey Jr, approximately 10 years ago. She was age 16 when she lost her life.
Dr. Cuccia later added, “I’m just a dad who misses his daughter very much. I would give anything to have Demi back in my life.”
Dr. Cuccia came to inform the school community about how it is important for all high school students, parents, teachers, and administrators to know the warning signs of domestic violence.
Some warning signs include but are not limited to talking about the person’s change in behavior. In her case, Demi noticed Mullarkey was being extremely possessive of her -- not allowing her to be places without him, and he was always telling her what and what not to wear.
At the beginning of the assembly, students viewed a video that allowed students to understand the type of person Demi was. She was described to have a “contagious smile, charming personality, and a compassionate, spiritual soul.”
After the video, Cuccia said, “To this day, I still live in disbelief that something like this was possible to happen.”
Mullarkey was a friend of Dr. Cuccia’s son through high school. As it was made known to the high school several times, it was unfathomable that Mullarkey killed Demi, since he was very affiliated with the Cuccia family: riding dirt-bikes with Cuccia’s son and attending several family get-togethers.
Dr. Cuccia later informed that if he knew the true definition of domestic violence and what it was, Demi would have been here today and out of the relationship she had with Mullarkey.
He asserted, “As a dad and as a family that was not educated and perceptive about dating violence… the only way I educated myself about dating violence was when I lost my daughter to it.”
Throughout the assembly, Dr. Cuccia wanted to emphasize that there is always assistance for students who are vulnerable to domestic violence. School counselors, principals, teachers, and family members were named as sources for help during domestic violence situations.
The main message Dr. Cuccia wanted sent through the assembly was to help students understand common signs of someone when he / she is a victim to domestic violence.
As said by Dr. Cuccia, Demi complained how Mullarkey became very possessive over her and caused her not to attend certain events or see other people without him. Even though this may seem minor, it is still a sign of domestic violence; Demi
Regardless, Dr. Cuccia expressed one thing: “If we all collectively work together, that’s how we are going to make an everlasting change -- that’s how we are going to make something more effective. We should not stay silent when we know someone is a victim to domestic violence.”
He ended, “You always see these situations on the news and think it will never happen to you, but it happened to us.”
Montour Peer-to-Peer presents check of $2,169 to The Demi Brae Cuccia Awareness Organization following the death of Montour graduate Alina Sheykhet to domestic violence.
Photo credit: Dominic Merlo