A young girl cowers in her home as the police take her father away. Frightened and confused, she learns that her father had abused her mother throughout their relationship.
Years later, the same girl sits in a truck with her fiancé. After cracking a joke, a hand blasts across her face, leaving her shocked and silently terrified.
Her relationship has suffered the same fate as her mothers. It has fallen to domestic violence.
Stories like this were heard throughout the Lowman Student Center Mall Wednesday as one of Sam Houston State University’s Greek organizations worked to raise awareness about domestic violence.
The Delta Kappa chapter of Panhellenic sorority Alpha Chi Omega has partnered with the SAAFE House during the month of October to promote domestic violence awareness month. Groups on campus have hosted events about the issue throughout the month. Alpha Chi Omega hosted their own this week, and have more events scheduled for the future.
The sorority hosted a luminary last night to honor victims of domestic and family violence. Survivors of the crime shared their stores with the audience of over 200 people.
The event fell on the sorority’s founder’s day, a day to celebrate a Greek organization’s birth. Junior education major and Alpha Chi Omega member Blair McDougal said her sorority traditionally spends their founder’s day supporting their philanthropy and she encouraged people speak up about domestic violence in their lives.
“It’s great that we do not only get to celebrate our founder’s day, but we also get to do something for the community at the same time,” McDougal said. “[People] need to look out for all the signs of domestic violence and if they know someone or are in a relationship with domestic violence, tell them to get out right away and tell someone.”
119 women lost their lives to domestic violence in Texas alone during 2013, according to the Texas Council on Family Violence. During the luminary, the names and ages of all 119 victims were read out loud as a candle for each person was placed on a table at the front of the event.
Kimberly Weiser, community relation’s director of SAAFE House said their partnership with Alpha Chi Omega has provided many opportunities to educate the SHSU community about the reality of domestic violence.
“I think there is sometimes a real misperception that domestic violence is only happening in low socio-economic status homes or in places that are not on the college campus,” Weiser said. “The reality is that we do have women and students here at Sam Houston that are fighting against domestic violence. We really want to take the opportunity to bring to light that issue and to be able to say, yes it is an issue on campus, yes it is affecting your classmates and yes you can do something about it.”
Today, Alpha Chi Omega encourages students, faculty and staff at SHSU to wear purple for “Go Purple Day” as a means of spreading awareness and educating others on campus. The organization spent time Wednesday to further “purple out” the campus by tying purple ribbons around the university. Fellow Panhellenic sorority Zeta Tau Alpha joined Alpha Chi Omega during the ribbon tying process, as Zeta Tau Alpha tied pink ribbons around campus in support of their philanthropy, breast cancer awareness.
Alpha Chi Omega will host another event to support the SAAFE House next month. “Kendra Gives Back” will take place Nov. 11 from 6-8 p.m. at the Kendra Scott Location in The Woodlands, Texas. 10 percent of the proceeds will go to the SAAFE House.
Through the rest of the week, Alpha Chi Omega will be providing information about domestic violence and selling t-shirts in the LSC Mall. T-shirts are $10 and will benefit SAAFE House.
When domestic violence awareness month ends, the fight continues on. Alpha Chi Omega and SAAFE House host awareness events throughout the year and continue to educate the public about the issue.