Wellness Center recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month


Laren Walters/ The JTAC

The Wellness Center has resources if you have been a victim of domestic violence or if you know someone who has been a victim.

To spread awareness about Domestic Violence Month, the Student Counseling Services, along with the Department of Criminal Justice Institute on Violence Against Women and Human Trafficking is sponsoring guest speaker, LaTasha Jackson-McDougle and a memorial in recognition of domestic violence.

Assistant Director of Student Counseling Services, Caris Thetford, oversees prevention efforts, substance abuse, suicide and violence, and also handles a clinical case load as a counselor.

“Domestic Violence Awareness Month is a national movement to bring attention to the topic of domestic violence,” said Thetford. “It’s important to understand this complex problem so that as a society we can address it and ultimately change the number of people affected, prosecute people who are violent, and support victims.”

An important point that Thetford mentioned was that domestic violence doesn’t start with violence, but with subtle behaviors.

“It can get tricky because offenders seem flattering at first, such as checking on victims frequently and being concerned about their well being. It might seem flattering at first because it seems like they care. Nobody ever enters a relationship clear-eyed,” said Thetford. “Even in healthy relationships we ignore or dismiss behaviors that might be problematic. Being on the receiving end, you’re not seeing them clearly. It’s very easy to excuse or brush off some of the warning signs.”

This behavior may escalate to physical violence, in which it becomes a very complex situation where a partner may have control over finances and transportation, or there may be children involved. Some signs of domestic violence can include, when friends and family start to hear about conflicts, when one partner seems to be in control of all the scheduling, on partner start to seem uncomfortable when they talk to outsiders, holding back info about what they are dealing with, seeing things like their phone blowing up with their partner wondering their location and who they’re with, and they may not be expressing concern but just talking about small details that say something is concerning.

“As friends or family members, when we notice some of those subtle differences and typical behavior that is abusive or see things that are escalating, we have to ask if they’re okay and let them know we are concerned. Just be aware that they may not be able to hear that yet,” Thetford said.

Student Counseling Services offers survivor advocacy for students who have encountered forms of violence.

“Advocates can show them resources such as medical care, help with appropriate accommodations both past or present, engage in appropriate communication, and can help with the aftermath,” Thetford said.. “The Health Center can provide health services for those who need it, law enforcement can help if a student needs to pursue charges for a situation of violence on or off campus. Cross Timbers Family Services can also be a resource for students and people in the community.”

There are lots of ways people can spread awareness about domestic violence. Thetford suggests educating yourself with correct information on Student Counseling Services’ social media and to speak up when you hear myths or misinformation.

“It’s a very complex situation, there is lots of misinformation. Often, the person trying to leave may not have control over anything such as finances, transportation or family,” Thetford said.. “The point when a victim leaves is the most lethal. If someone is going to kill their partner, it will be soon after a victim leaves.”

Thousands of people are impacted by domestic violence each year. If we don’t recognize and understand the dynamics of abusive relationships, we cannot stop them. It is difficult to acknowledge when something horrible is happening. It is easy to explain it away or rationalize, especially if we like that person but it is not an excuse to turn a blind eye. We all have to be a part of the solution.

“Because there are thousands of people who are impacted, if we don’t recognize or understand the dynamics, we can’t stop it. It can be difficult to acknowledge when we hear about something happening. It’s easy to explain it away or rationalize because we like that person, but it’s not an excuse to turn a blind eye.” says Thetford.

The Domestic Violence Awareness Month guest speaker and memorial will be held Oct. 29 in the Fine Arts Center Workshop Theatre from 3:30 p.m, to 4:30 p.m. Information about the event or Domestic Violence Awareness Month can be found on the Student Counseling Services page on the Tarleton website or on the signs that line Rudder Way.