Panel speaks domestic violence

Panel speaks domestic violence

Courtesy of Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence

by Jamie Ballard, Staff Writer

The second annual Diversity Takes Action Conference, presented by Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence took place on Nov. 1.

Hosted at San Diego State’s Parma Payne Goodall Alumni Center, the conference featured a number of workshops and lectures to help raise awareness about issues of domestic violence. Several SDSU students attended the event, either as volunteers or participants.

The workshops covered numerous topics, from describing what an abusive relationship is to explaining financial and legal concerns related to domestic violence. Some workshops focused on a specific demographic in particular, such as the LGBTQ community, American Indians or immigrants living in the country illegally.

Miss America 2015 Kira Kazantsev was the keynote speaker. Her presentation, “Love Shouldn’t Hurt: Protecting Women Against Domestic Violence,” addressed the causes and signs of an abusive relationship and how to resolve the issues.

“The justice system is driving the getaway car for abusers,” Kazantsev said. “It’s not proactive, and we need to change that.”

She opened her presentation by speaking about why women stay in abusive relationships.

“It’s not that she’s an idiot, saying, ‘Oh, but I love my boyfriend,’” she said. “In many cases, the abuse has been going on for so long that she is psychologically warped. There’s also the issues of money or financial dependence, drugs and alcohol, children, her family life or any number of factors that might be keeping her trapped.”

Kazantsev said in order for there to be a significant change, men need to be part of the solution.

“I truly believe that men will lead this crusade,” she said. “This is everyone’s problem. And I have faith in there being a resolution.”

Communication major Diedra Lewis attended the event as part of an ethnography and domestic violence project she is working on for one of her classes. She is researching women who leave their abusers and what makes them do so.

“I wanted to dig into what is it that triggers that call to action for a person who has been abused,” Lewis said. “What sets the stage for them to sit up and say, ‘I’m done with this’? What is it in a conversation that gets someone to take further action?”

So far she’s found different answers.

“For some, it only happens one time, for some there may be multiple instances before they try to leave,” she said. “For some, it might be a near-death experience.”

Part of what inspired her to explore this topic was her personal experiences.

“My mom was a victim of abuse, my mother-in-law was a victim of abuse, and they were victims back in the day when there was no such thing as a shelter, no counseling, no resources.” Lewis said. “I also had a friend who was victimized that I lost, and she left behind two kids.”

Lewis was also one of the participants in the candlelight vigil during the conference. At the candlelight vigil, all participants were given an LED candle with a purple light to signify domestic abuse awareness.

Musicians Terry Josiah, Joshua Sharpe and Amy Monzon performed at the conference. Following the music, there was a special dedication ceremony in which individuals shared a picture of a victim and read their story aloud. The pictures and stories were submitted to Break The Silence from families of victims across the country.

Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence will be hosting a gala and auction on Feb. 7 to fund services the organization provides, such as community workshops and mentorship programs.

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