Break the Cycle: Old Dominion grad produces play that raises awareness about domestic violence

10 On Your Side

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) —  An Old Dominion University graduate hopes to help domestic violence victims through theater.

Tanya Rollins-Shadley graduated from ODU as a theater major. Now, as the CEO of her own production company, she hopes to give back to the students.

“I wanted to give back to the campus that gave me so much,” explained Rollins-Shadley.

She wrote, produced and directed the stage play called ‘Onward Upward: Getting Past the Past’.

“It is a domestic violence awareness stage play that tackles it head on. It deals with two main characters, Claudia and Richard. You see what happens once they say ‘I do.’ They have a picture perfect relationship, so it seems on the surface but we show what happens behind closed doors,” Rollins-Shadley explained.

The play follows a couple who fell in love, then shows the red flags associated with domestic violence.

“We show what happens when someone starts to isolate you from their family and friends,” said Rollins-Shadley. “We also show what happens as results of this domestic violence epidemic.”

Three shows this weekend are dedicated to her cousin Michelle ‘Sunni’ Rawlings. 10 On Your Side’s sister station in Richmond, WRIC, reports Rawlings was shot and killed on New Year’s Eve in a murder-suicide.

“When I was a student, as a theater student, another theater student Sherika Brown was killed due to domestic violence. Unfortunately, most recently my cousin Michelle Rawlings was killed December 31st, 2018 due to domestic violence,” said Rollins-Shadley .

There will be resources available for victims at the performances of the play.

“We can slide it to you secretly,” Rollins-Shadley says. “Love should not hurt. There are resources. There is help.”

To discreetly ask for help or resources, all you have to do is say ‘I need a sweet snack’ to tell one of the staff members.

The play is open to everyone, students and the general public.

You can catch the show at the University Theater, located at 47 Hampton Boulevard in Norfolk. Parking is free in garage D.

General tickets are $15, student tickets are $5

The shows will be on Oct. 12 at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. and on Oct. 13 at 4 p.m.

If you are a student at ODU and need help, contact the Women’s Center, 1000 Webb Center or call (757) 683-4109.


For Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Kiahnna Patterson will join WAVY News 10 Today every Wednesday morning to start the conversation and share programs around Hampton Roads to help break the silence.

Here are some local and national resources for victims in need of help.

YWCA South Hampton Roads in Norfolk
757-625-4248
Offers counseling, youth and crisis services.
24/7 Crisis Hotline 757-251-0144

Avalon Center in Williamsburg
757-258-5022
Offers transitional housing, emergency shelter, youth services, legal advice, and counseling.
24- hour Crisis Hotline 757- 258-5051

Samaritan House Inc. in Virginia Beach
757-631-0710
Offers counseling, emergency shelter placement, and safety planning.
24- hour Crisis Hotline 757-430-2120

HER Shelter in Portsmouth
757-485-1445
Offers emergency services, court assistance, shelter, employment, housing assistance.
Hotline 757-485-3384

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1−800−799−7233

Transitions Family Violence Services 24/7 Crisis Hotline: 757-723-7774

Center for Sexual Assault Survivors: 757-599-9844

Hampton Victim Witness: 757-726-6978

Newport News Victim Witness: 757-926-7443

York/Poquoson Victim Witness: 757-890-3402

Fear 2 Freedom: 888-453-3059

LGBT Life Center: 757-640-0929

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