Students come together to “take back the night”

Jasper Dewitt II, Staff Writer

Candlelight illuminated the night on Monday, Oct. 11, as students joined together in marching around the residence halls and Heyward Community Center and chanting “take back the night.”

The students used the march to show that both males and females can take a stand against domestic violence. Before the students marched, they sat through a special presentation about the causes and effects of domestic violence in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month led by Joyce G. Ford, executive director of the Naomi Project in Florence.

“A common mistake that most women make is that they believe that they could make the relationship work by themselves,” Ford said. “A relationship must be equally balanced it should not be one sided.”

The Naomi Project is a non-profit organization located in Florence that is devoted to teaching about domestic abuse. Ford and her colleagues give presentations at schools, churches, workshops and events to fight for families that have suffered through domestic violence.

The Naomi Project received recognition in March 2008 by the Global Summit for A Better Tomorrow at the United Nations in New York City.

While Ford progressed through her PowerPoint presentation on domestic violence awareness, she had shared many unknown facts that surprised many of the students and faculty that were present. In one portion of her presentation, she discussed the importance of power and control. She had a diagram called the “Power and Control Wheel” to help the students understand the pattern of abusive and violent behavior.

“Very often, one or more violent incidents are accompanied by an array of these other types of abuse,” Ford said, referring to her diagram.”They are less easily identified, yet firmly establish a pattern of intimidation and control in the relationship.”

As a part of her presentation, Ford gave out handouts which provided detailed information concerning domestic violence. The handouts gave the students a chance to learn what domestic violence is and understand some of the warning signs of a violent relationship.

Some of the highlighted signs were fear of the well-being of a violent partner. It was also emphasized in one of the documents that one should not fall into the emotional trap of believing that no one understands the real love that exists in the relationship.

Ford emphasized that close relationships are not always the most caring ones.

“When we look at domestic abuse we tend to think that someone close to us cares for us, and that’s not true,” Ford said.

According to the Naomi Project of Florence, the state of South Carolina was ranked second in the nation for domestic homicides in the year of 2008. The Naomi Project also concludes that sixty percent of homeless mothers cite domestic abuse as the reason they became homeless.

Once Ford ended her presentation, Tracey Williamson, Pee Dee Coalition coordinator, briefly shared touching words with the students.

“I believe that the main things that college students should be aware of when it comes to domestic abuse are date rape, acquaintance rape and partner rape,” Williamson said.

When Williamson had the floor, she had the males and females in the program stand up and make a vow to respect each other. Once the males and females had finished making their vows, Williamson had everyone in the program to make a circle holding hands.

When everyone got into the circle, she explained to the group the essence of the South African motto “ubuntu.” As everyone held hands, she explained that ubuntu means “I am because you are.”

“Because you were a victim, I am a victim. Because you were hurt, I am hurt,” Williamson said.

Once the program was over, Lakena Gamble, assistant director of Residence Life, gave her words to of appreciation to the Naomi Project, the Pee Dee Coalition and Omega Psi Phi for helping make “Take Back the Night” a successful program. She also told the students to look forward to more domestic awareness programs in the spring of 2010.