Domestic violence abuse seminar

Joslyn McCall, Staff Writer

An invitation was extended to all female Francis Marion University (FMU) students inquiring about how they can protect themselves and their loved ones from domestic and sexual abuse when the Xi Omicron chapter of Delta Sigma Theta (DST) Sorority Inc. hosted a domestic and sexual abuse seminar.

      The seminar, “Stop Violence Against Women,” was held Wednesday, Feb. 5 at 6 p.m. in the Leatherman Science Facility (LSF).

      Lauren Jenkins, senior early childhood education major and DST member, organized the event with the help of her sorority sisters.

      As a community volunteer, Jenkins said her overall goal for conducting the event was to instill better safety habits in the everyday lives of college students and teach them to be more aware of their surroundings.

      “I am glad this [seminar] gave the students that attended some insight on important safety precaution,” Jenkins said.  “I hope this event will encourage more students to volunteer at the Pee Dee Coalition because they are in dire need.”

      The speaker for the evening was Tracy Williamson, Reducing Our Assault Risk (ROAR) coordinator, explained some key notes on safety measures women must maintain and common safety mistakes female college students make.

      As a certified Rape Aggression Defense (R.A.D) Instructor, Williamson travels across the Pee Dee region organizing community events and speaking at high school and college functions on how to protect oneself in any situation.

      Williamson explained that many incidents of sexual abuse happen on college campuses that the public is unaware of.  

      Domestic and sexual abuse has taken on a larger role in society with social media’s having such a big part in the everyday life, Williamson said; the abuser will humiliate and violate the victims of these crimes by posting videos and pictures of the victims for their peers to see.

      Williamson spoke about the importance of taking safety into one’s own hands to ensure the protection of women, especially in a college environment.

      Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women according to the domestic violence statistics. One and 4 women are assaulted on a college campus.  That is an estimated 1.3 million women victimized by domestic and sexual assault.  A woman is beaten by her husband or boyfriend every 18 seconds.

      Women 20-24 years of age are at the greatest risk and make up a larger percentage of women who experienced domestic and sexual abuse according to the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, and most domestic violence incidents are never reported.

      The Pee Dee Coalition against Domestic and Sexual Assault, a non-profit organization, assisted 724 victims from 2010-2011, and provided 123 of those victims with shelter.

      The Pee Dee Coalition offers support counseling, support groups and a confidential 24-hour crisis line to victims.

      Kiana Jones, freshman marketing major, attended the seminar in support her sister, who is a member of the DST Sorority, and said she learned some interesting and educational knowledge.

      “I want to learn how to better protect myself and family from domestic abuse and educate others,” Jones said.

            For National Sexual Assault Awareness month in April, Williamson and Xi Omicron chapter are considering offering a free self-defense class for all who want to participate later in the semester.  Information will be provided when the event is approved.