Written by Emma Field, Tiane Davis and Emma Weber // Graphic provided by Hope Cottage
As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, executive director of the White County Domestic Violence Prevention Program Bobbie Boozer held a seminar with Dr. Andrea Morris yesterday in an interview-style discussion to inform the Searcy community about domestic violence.
The pair held the discussion in the Anthony Wright Administration Auditorium from 7-8:30 p.m. and discussed four topics: the signs of dating violence, how it starts, the role of isolation and how we can help someone affected by it.
Boozer, who gave a talk last year for a social work class at Harding, said it is very important for everyone to be informed about any type of domestic violence because it is something that affects the community in multiple ways.
“It actually costs the community,” Boozer said. “There is a lot of loss associated with domestic violence. That’s loss of wages, loss of work hours and loss of productivity — the worst thing being loss of life. It’s a problem that we all have to deal with that we’re all responsible for.”
Boozer said domestic violence is an issue of when a person’s free will is violated.
“I think it’s really important for particularly Harding students and people in the faith community to recognize that free will is ultimately one of the greatest gifts we have,” Boozer said. “We can’t let one person’s insecurities infringe upon the free will of another person. That’s something that college-age adults really need to protect is that ability to make their own choices and not be controlled and dominated by another person.”
To mark the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Boozer and Morris spoke during “Table Talk with Ella” at chapel on Oct. 2. Domestic Violence Awareness Month was started in 1981 by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), 10 million people per year, that’s about 20 people per minute, are affected by this epidemic; one in four women and one in nine men experience domestic violence. Types of abuse include: physical abuse, psychological and emotional abuse, sexual abuse, financial abuse, verbal abuse, isolation and stalking.
Dr. Andrea Morris, assistant to the provost for strategic initiative, said there are many common misunderstandings about domestic violence. Domestic violence happens regardless of age, gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, economic status or nationality.
“There are misconceptions that it wouldn’t happen at a Christian college or amongst Christians,” Morris said. “We want our students and community to recognize the signs. It can happen in a manner that we aren’t paying attention to.”
In the Searcy community, White County Domestic Violence Prevention offers Hope Cottage as a sanctuary for those seeking healing after abuse.
Hope Cottage is equipped with a large security fence, high-tech security system, communal kitchen, living room and laundry room. They can house up to 15 people, and they provide food, linens and personal hygiene to individuals in need.
Morris said help and resources are available if students are experiencing domestic violence. Students can reach out to law enforcement, Public Safety, the Student Life office and the counseling office.
“First, I want students to know it’s not their fault, and they do not have to walk that alone,” Morris said. “There are ways to get help. If there is a professor that you trust, I would encourage you to go to them and share.”
Domestic violence can happen at any time, in any relationship. It is not limited to coming from a romantic partner. It can be between romantic partners, parents and children, and through technology.
“Part of it is recognizing the signs,” Morris said. “Someone who is suddenly ‘absent’ and withdrawing from normal activities are things to pay attention to. It’s okay to step into their circle to probe a little bit. Scripture even says, ‘We are to take care of one another.’”
Manager at Hope Restored Janie Moore said the thrift store’s purpose is to bring awareness to domestic violence prevention, with fact sheets throughout the store and interaction through sales and customer interaction.
She said they “just support them and learn from places like us how to do that.”
All proceeds at Hope Restored Thrift Store go to supporting domestic abuse victims.
People seeking help can call 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233), text “Start” to 88788 or visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline’s website to chat with a live representative.
Hope Cottage’s hotline number is (501) 278-4673.