Students call attention to domestic violence at symposium

Wednesday Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater hosts SMU’s inaugural domestic violence symposium.

Virginia Brooks, an SMU graduate student, created the event after being inspired by an exercise in her domestic violence class taught by Professor Sarah Feuerbacher.

The Association of Student Counselors, Zeta Phi Beta and Alpha Chi Omega sororities will host the event.

“We hope to educate the SMU community about how prevalent and serious domestic violence is,” Alpha Chi President Molly Murer said.

Alpha Chi’s involvement was inspired by their goals for their sorority philanthropy involvement with Genesis Women’s Shelter.

“This is a cause that receives very little publicity,” Murer said. “There is no national campaign to end domestic violence.”

Many of the women working on the symposium presentation hope to change how little domestic violence is talked about.

According to statistics, one in every three women is abused by their partner.

“Seventy six percent of all Texans have themselves, a family member or a friend experience some form of domestic violence,” Feurbacher said.

At the symposium, guests will hear from a panel of experts on domestic violence. The panel will include SMU’s Feuerbacher and Renee McDonald.

Every person on the panel works closely on the study of relationships and with victims of domestic violence.

McDonald said she was invited, “because [her] academic area of expertise is in the area of family violence — both intimate partner violence and child abuse — teen dating violence and sexual assault.”

The aim is to equip the students who attend with the ability to speak out against domestic violence for themselves.

“Abuse only happens if there is a safe target, so SMU students can begin to speak up with it seems like a person is being hurt, or even when it is a friend hurting someone else,” Feuerbacher said.

Feuerbacher hopes attendees will leave with more knowledge about the cause and a desire to end the cycle.

“[The goal is that] people will become empowered to make healthy choices in their own relationships, and encourage others to do the same in order to ultimately break the silence on domestic violence,” Feuerbacher said.

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