Arkansas State University raises awareness to domestic violence

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)-September is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and a Region 8 University is working to educate it's students.

Members of Arkansas State University's Counseling Center are holding events throughout the week that focus on both domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Director of the ASU Counseling Center, Dr. Phil Hestand, says one of the things they do is the "Silent Witness."

"The Silent Witness is a program that acknowledges and recognizes the women in the state of Arkansas who have died due to domestic violence. A full size cut out representing each woman stands in the hallway with a shield attached containing their story."

Graduate student Erik Wilson was shocked with what he learned from the people he spoke to, "I really didn't know that it was this prevalent as far as violence as far as women and their lives on campus and I think it gives awareness to women so they can be more aware of protecting themselves when things like this occur."

Dr. Hestand says Wilson's reaction is normal and that's why they work so hard to educate students.

"I think students are often surprised by the numbers and the incidents, " Hestand said. "I think we have preconceived notions of who might be a victim of domestic violence and it truly cuts across all ethnic groups as well as social economic groups and ages."

ASU student Yan Wang thinks what the counseling center is doing is a good thing,"I think that's a pretty cool event because as you know we have this kind of thing going on at campus and they're helping our students to understand how important it is and also some students are struggling with this kind of issue and then they have someone to talk to."

Hestand says there are a couple of reasons people need to talk about domestic violence and get informed.

"Some of our students are victims or involved in domestic violence. So we want to educate them as well as talk to them about things they might do to help themselves and their situation. Also, part of being a well educated person is understanding and knowing our place in society. We hope to inspire some of our students to work in the field or volunteer."

Twenty-one women in Arkansas have lost their lives this year due to domestic violence.

A candle light vigil will be held in their memory Tuesday evening at seven near the fountain at the Student Union Center.

For more information about events taking place during this week, log onto their website.

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