Violence Awareness Month begins at GRU

AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - Violence Awareness Month at Georgia Regents University began Thursday with Purple Light Nights, a tree-lighting ceremony with information about the university's month-long anti-violence programming.

Alexis Foust, the Outreach Coordinator with SafeHomes of Augusta, said there is one main message she wants the students to understand.

"Domestic violence doesn't have a face or a name, it's anybody," she said.

The month long program of events is to educate students on an issue that happens more often than you would think.

"It happens very often between ages 18-24 that the first incident occurs. So trying to get out there as early as possible is very important to try to prevent that," Foust said.

Allison Foley, an Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at GRU, said there are warning signs of a violent relationship students and friends should be aware of.

"Passivity, an increased passiveness on the part of their friend, as well as depression, increased anxiety, because those are associated with abuse and sexual violence. In terms of the abuser's behavior, extreme jealousy is a really big red flag," Foley said.

For students, events like this are viewed as an eye opening experience.

"A lot of students who are in these types of relationships may not know exactly what to do. So as far as bringing these programs it can give them an incentive or at least kind of give them an idea of where to go from here," said Lunden Williams, a junior at GRU.

The Message of Hope board was filled out by students to be placed in the new SafeHomes facility, and people attending the ceremony have some messages to anyone suffering from domestic violence.

"There is help, there are so many resources available and to not be afraid to reach out," said Foust.

"To not be embarrassed, and to not blame yourself. It's never your fault," Williams said.

"You're not alone. You do have people that are here to help you or even just to talk to," aid Amanda Terrell, a junior at GRU.

Other events for Violence Awareness Month include:

"Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me"

What: Dr. Yamma Brown will discuss her new book, "Cold Sweat: My Father James Brown and Me." The daughter of James Brown will share her compelling account of witnessing and experiencing abusive relationships. Lunch will be provided by The Brown Bag to the first 100 attendees at the event, sponsored by the Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Social Work, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the GRU Counseling Center.

When: noon on Oct. 14

Where: Jaguar Student Activities Center Ballroom

"Safe Exits: The Process and Challenges of Leaving an Abusive Relationship"

What: A panel of victim advocates and legal professionals will discuss the complex legal processes involved in leaving an abusive relationship in "Safe Exits: The Process and Challenges of Leaving an Abusive Relationship." Panelists include SafeHomes Legal Advocate Yasmin Thomas-Goodman, National Advocate Credentialing Program Volunteer Advocate Joahn Sperry, Assistant District Attorney Titus Nichols and the Honorable Judge Douglas J. Flanagan.

When: 6 p.m. on Oct. 21

Where: Jaguar Student Activities Center Coffeehouse

SafeHomes Survivor's Walk

What: Local women's shelter SafeHomes hosts this ceremonial walk, which includes testimonies from those who have survived domestic violence, statements from local practitioners who work to end domestic violence and a candlelight walk to honor all who have experienced it. The walk is sponsored by the GRU Department of Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Social Work, the GRU Counseling Center, and Ladybug's Flowers and Gifts.

When: 6:30 p.m. on Oct. 30

Where: the flagpole near the Summerville campus amphitheater

All events are sponsored by the Violence Awareness Month Committee in partnership with SafeHomes of Augusta, Inc., and with special assistance by students in Foley's Gender and Victimization course.

If you would like to contact SafeHomes, visit their website or call 706-736-2499.