Social Work Shows Out for Domestic Violence Awareness/by Kyle Hamrick

Alexis Jones, Lauren Guthrie, and other members of the Association of Student Social Workers will be raising awareness for domestic violence from Oct. 14 to 17, with different events occurring each day. 

Jones and Guthrie, both juniors majoring in social work, are spearheading the awareness campaign. The pair hail from Louisiana, and both started out in biology pre-med. 

Guthrie switched her major her freshman year after an insightful meeting with the Office of Student Success, saying of social work, “It interested me and was the best I could do with the abilities God’s given me.” 

Jones switched over after shadowing a pediatrician last Christmas and meeting a little boy and his verbally abusive grandmother. When the pediatrician reprimanded her for speaking out in the boy’s defense, Jones reconsidered her career path. After working a summer in India and helping people in desperate need, Jones decided to pursue a degree in social work, saying, “The desire of my heart is to figure out why and meet a person where they are.” 

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), an average of 20 people are abused by an intimate partner every minute – amounting to more than 10 million women and men a year in the United States. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men have been abused by an intimate partner, and on a typical day, domestic violence hotlines receive over 20,000 calls.

After learning about how much evil is wrought behind the facade of a happy couple relationship, Jones and Guthrie decided to speak up in a big way.

According to Jones, the association aims to “really raise awareness rather than sit in the caf and hand out flyers.” As a result, the campaign’s four days will be filled with meaningful learning opportunities, including a moving illustration in t-shirts and a viewing of the film The Burning Bed.

Jones and Guthrie, citing statistics, say the contemporary culture and legal system are to blame for a lack of conversations on domestic violence. 

“People just aren’t aware,” said Jones. “Like right now, a woman is being abused.” While one could easily turn an abuser in to the police, the difficulty of escaping an abusive relationship makes it very hard to take someone to trial and put them behind bars. 

Deborah Holt, chair of the Department of Sociology and Social Work, said, “With so many women and men affected by domestic violence, it is vital that students become informed about the issue. I have worked with many women who have been in violent relationships, and it is not only physically damaging, but also emotionally and psychologically damaging as well. Increased awareness not only helps students protect themselves as they anticipate a new relationship; it also helps facilitate a social change in which intimate partner violence is not only a crime, but also socially unacceptable.”

The t-shirt illustration will occur on the quad with each shirt representing a certain number of people abused by domestic violence. The association has placed boxes in dorms to receive donations for the illustration. Afterward, all shirts will be donated to the Clinton 4Cs.

The Burning Bed is a TV-movie from 1984 starring Farrah Fawcett based on the true story of Francine Hughes, an American housewife and mother who murdered her husband in 1977 after 13 years of abuse.

These are just two examples of the sobering realities the association hopes to shed light on through this campaign. Through events like these, Jones and Guthrie hope students’ hearts are broken by the truth, so their eyes can be opened to the everyday reality of domestic violence. 

The Association of Student Social Workers encourages students to show their support by wearing purple and coming out.

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