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A-State to Observe Domestic Violence Awareness Month Sept. 16-20


JONESBORO, Ark. — In an effort to focus attention on the upcoming Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Arkansas State University Counseling Center is sponsoring a Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Week, Monday through Friday, Sept. 16 -20.

All scheduled events are free and open to the public, according to Dr. Phil Hestand, director of the A-State Counseling Center. All events will be in the Carl R. Reng Student Union beginning at 9 a.m., Sept. 16.

“Actually, Domestic Violence Awareness Month is in October, but we want to offer these events a little earlier so we can lead up to the month because we combine sexual assault awareness as well,” said Dr. Hestand. “In addition to the events scheduled, we will be doing numerous class presentations on the topics during September and October. The university family and the public are encouraged to join the Arkansas State campus community and participate in this educational awareness program.”

Domestic violence is defined as the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior perpetrated by an intimate partner against another. It is an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background.

“Violence against women is often accompanied by emotionally abusive and controlling behavior, and thus is part of a systematic pattern of dominance and control,” continued Dr. Hestand. “Domestic violence results in physical injury, psychological trauma, and sometimes death. Sexual assault or forced sex occurs in approximately 40-45 percent of battering relationships. The consequences of domestic violence can cross generations and truly last a lifetime.”

Dr. Hestand pointed out several facts about domestic violence in the state of Arkansas, including
Arkansas ranking among the top three states for domestic homicides. (Arkansas Commission on Child Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence). The state of Arkansas is ranked first in domestic violence homicides for African-American women in the United States (Arkansas Commission on Child Abuse, Rape and Domestic Violence). A recent study of employees in Arkansas-based firms found that 20 percent of threats and 72 percent of stalking incidents occur at work (BusinessWeek Online).

The first event is “Silent Witness” from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday, in the Natural State Lounge. Created in 1995 by Arkansas Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the Silent Witness Project consists of life-sized plywood cutouts painted red and black. Each cutout represents a female victim murdered by an intimate partner during the most recent year. Each victim bears a shield containing the victim’s story. Last year in Arkansas, 17 women were murdered during an act of domestic violence. The Silent Witness cutouts will be displayed from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day in the Natural State Lounge area of the Student Union.

From 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Natural State Lounge, students will have an opportunity to trace their hands on a banner display and pledge that their hands will be for helping, not hurting. The Counseling Center will provide information related to self-protection and prevention.

In support of RAINN’s (Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network) RAINN Day is Tuesday, Sept. 17, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Natural State Lounge. This is an annual day of action to raise awareness and educate students about sexual violence on college campuses. It is a grassroots program designed to empower college students to educate their peers about risk reduction and recovery resources on their campus. The Counseling Center will provide whistles along with safe dating tips to encourage students to date safe, smart and to protect themselves.

Following at 7 p.m., a domestic violence candlelight vigil will be held at Heritage Plaza on the east side lawn of the student union. The Counseling Center sponsors this annual event to increase awareness of the effects of domestic violence and to encourage the community to take steps to prevent domestic violence in families and society. Special guest speaker Tina Warren will present her personal story, and the Counseling Center will share safety tips for preventing domestic violence and sexual assault.

Each of the 17 victims that were murdered in Arkansas last year will be personally memorialized during the vigil. The public is encouraged to join the campus community and participate in this memorial and educational awareness program.

Using Safe Dating Tip cards, students will test their knowledge about sexual assault and domestic violence in an interactive game in the Natural State Lounge, Wednesday, Sept. 18, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

On Thursday, Sept. 19, beginning at 6:30 p.m. in the student union auditorium, the Counseling Center will present “Telling Amy’s Story,” a domestic violence documentary hosted by actress and advocate Mariska Hargitay and narrated by Detective Deirdri Fishel. The documentary follows the timeline of a domestic violence homicide. The victim’s parents and co-workers, law enforcement officers, and court personnel share their perspectives on what happened to Amy in the weeks, months, and years leading up to her death. This documentary is co-sponsored by Mangan Holcomb Partners and Verizon.

Domester Violence Ribbons