‘Don’t Look Away’ forum gets students talking about domestic violence awareness
On Monday night, the Martha Proctor Mack Grand Ballroom on the third floor of the Umphrey Lee building was filled with close to 500 attendees for “Don’t Look Away: A Dating Violence Prevention Forum.” Alyssa Daigle had a large role in planning the event as the Vice President of Philanthropy for SMU’s Alpha Chi Omega, which hosted the event.
“This event is important because sexual assault and domestic violence are very serious issues in college and the more people that are aware, the more we can prevent it from happening,” explained Daigle.
SMU alumna and former athlete, Monika Kørra spoke at the event about her personal experience with sexual assault. During her sophomore year Kørra was kidnapped at gunpoint, brutally raped by three men and dumped in Fair Park. Kørra recalled her thought process while she was sitting in the hospital, deciding whether to tell people what had happened or remain silent. Kørra decided to talk about it and went on to write a book, Kill the Silence: A Survivor’s Life Reclaimed, about her experience.
“Its not what happens to you, but how you respond to it that matters,” said Kørra.
She spoke before sitting on the panel that discussed questions from the moderator, Katie Ray-Jones, and the audience. The panel included Kørra; Crayton Webb, VP of Corporate Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility for Mary Kay Inc. and President of the HeROs Men’s Auxiliary Board at Genesis Women’s Shelter; Jan Langbein, CEO of Genesis Women’s Shelter; Anita Edwards, an advocate from loveisrespect.org and Amy Mustafa from Alpha Chi Omega’s national headquarters.
The panel discussed a variety of topics that effect college students, such as the warning signs of abusive relationships and how to help those around them who may be victims.
Emily Walsh is an SMU alumna and is working for Mary Kay Inc. as the corporate communications coordinator. Walsh saw the discussion panel as the perfect way to get students talking about these issues, considering that February is Healthy Relationships Month.
“Considering everything that is in the news and the focus on safe campuses and healthy relationships, I think that it’s a great time, especially in partnership with the dating violence awareness month,” said Walsh.
Some students were surprised at the points that panel members brought up, such as the statistics about how many women in the U.S. will be victims of physical, emotional or verbal abuse.
“I didn’t realize the number was as high as 1 in 4 women,” said Alex Porter, a Kappa Sigma who attended the discussion panel. “I didn’t realize so few people were coming out about it,” said Porter’s friend John Graham.
Students asked a variety of questions, including what to say to a victim and the role of being under the influence in sexual assault cases. The panel also discussed tools for victims, like the number for the National Domestic Violence Hotline that Mary Kay Inc. puts inside of free compact mirrors so that victims can have the number and their abuser will not know (1.800.799.7223) and loveisrespect, where people can text ‘loveis’ to 22522 and communicate with an advocate over text message about what they are experiencing.
“I think this is an important issue that a lot of people don’t give the attention it deserves,” said Porter. “I hope we could come and then educate our friends and help them empower women.”
Don’t Look Away was presented by Mary Kay Inc., loveisrespect.org and the Don’t Look Away campaign. SMU’s Alpha Chi Omega chapter hosted the discussion panel because of their local partnership with Genesis Women’s Shelter, their national partnership with Mary Kay Inc. and their commitment to domestic violence awareness.