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Local organizations provide help during Domestic Violence Awareness Month

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Couple that wishes to remain unnamed shows a photo of a love letter. "As Johnny Cash once said, love is like a ring of fire." Said the man.
Photo by Felipe Gomez | Staff Photographer

The Student Health Center and other organizations at Texas State are taking action for October which is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, in an effort to educate students on their options for finding safety.

Domestic violence can be classified as abuse between spouses, family members, children, dating and sexual partners. The abuse can be physical, emotional, sexual or economical. There are several facilities and organizations on and around campus that are trying to do their part to bring awareness to these forms of abuse and end domestic violence.

The Student Health Center offers students who are victims of domestic abuse with medical help as well as connecting them to resources.

Julie Eckert, assistant director of Student Health Services, says that healthcare providers will offer their services in observance of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“Healthcare providers,” Eckert said, “…are going to offer counseling services either here on campus or at the Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center, and of course whatever medical help patients may need”

Located within the Student Health Center is the Health Promotion Services office. Their goal is to help students academically by promoting healthy lifestyles and a healthy campus for the students.

One of the ways they do that is through an organization called Men Against Violence. MAV is a peer education team on campus which helps spread awareness of domestic violence and other forms of violence.

Kelsey Banton, health promotions specialist and advisor for MAV, says that MAV is especially active during the month of October to raise awareness.

“We do outreach throughout the month of October,” Banton said. “We just wrapped up our Red Flags event. This is an issue we’re not talking about. It is very important that we make our communities feel safe, no matter how you identify.”

The Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center is another helpful resource for someone who believes they are a victim of abuse. According to Melissa Rodriguez, director of community partnerships for the center, the center served 1,872 victims face to face in 2016. Services the center provides are a 24-hour helpline, counseling, shelter, educational programs and much more.

Despite the name, the center’s resources are not limited to females. Anyone who lives within the Hays or Caldwell counties has access to the free and confidential services.

“Anyone and everyone,” Rodriguez said. “Domestic Violence is not isolated to just one population, including gender. We know disproportionately, that women are more likely to be a victim of domestic violence but men can be victims as well.”

Signs of domestic abuse are often referred to as red flags. These red flags can sometimes go unnoticed until things have already escalated. There doesn’t always have to be physical signs; however, for abuse to be present.

Controlling behavior, according to Rodriguez, can often be misinterpreted by college students. Students can see jealousy as a sign of caring, but it can also be the sign of a more aggressive and controlling behavior. Rodriguez says she wants students to learn this, and remember long after October.

“Sometimes victims don’t see themselves as victims if they haven’t been physically assaulted in an extreme way,” Rodriguez said.

On campus, all students, staff, and faculty are given the opportunity to report sexual misconduct to The Title IX Coordinator, Gilda Garcia, or they can report an incident through the Office of Equity and Access Page.

Garcia said anyone who sees or believes they are a victim of sexual assault, dating violence, stalking, sexual harassment, domestic violence, sexual exploitation or sexual intimidation may make a report.

Students can also visit The Student Health Center, The Campus Counseling Center, The Hays-Caldwell Women’s Center, or The Resources for Sexual Assault Survivors tab.

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