Conference, concert shed light on domestic violence

The Alpha Chi Omega Letters serve as a backdrop at the blockparty Wednesday night. Baylee VerSteeg | Multimedia Journalist

By Courtney Sosnowski | Reporter

This week, Baylor and Waco took a stand against domestic violence through music and education.

The Waco Family Abuse Center and the McLennan County Domestic Violence Response Team hosted the fifth annual one-day conference for domestic violence. The conference seeks to train and educate lawyers, social workers, counselors and other professionals who may encounter domestic violence through the course of their work.

Micah Titterington, director of outreach and legal advocacy at the Waco Family Abuse Center, said college students should be able to distinguish between different types of relationships.

“I think it’s very important for college students to be thinking about ‘what do healthy relationships look like’ and coming to a place of understanding that a healthy relationship is built on mutual respect and a sense of equality for each other and that any types of controlling behaviors that start to creep into a relationship is going to be unhealthy and perhaps abusive,” Titterington said.

The conference featured Dr. Jeff Temple, director of behavior health and research at the University of Texas Medical Branch who is currently researching the risk and protective factors of teen dating violence. Temple is an advocate for healthy relationship curriculum to appear in the school system.

“The main reason I want to prevent dating violence is because if we can prevent dating violence, we can prevent domestic violence,” Temple said during his keynote speech.

On campus, Alpha Chi Omega debuted their ‘Block Party’ event, created to provide a more lighthearted opportunity to learn about domestic violence and to encourage more student participation.

The concert featured Honest Men, an indie pop band formed by current and former Baylor students.

“Any time an uncomfortable issue is talked about in a public forum it’s inspiring because it’s uncommon,” lead guitarist Brooks Whitehurst said. “And to have creative elements and just an atmosphere of community kind of opening up a conversation about something that’s uncomfortable is inspiring for a lot of reasons.”

The event raised funds for the Waco Family Abuse Center.

While listening to music, attendees played tailgate games, took pictures and enjoyed dinner from various food trucks.

Denver junior Katie Galgano, Alpha Chi’s philanthropy chair, helped organize the event.

“It’s also been amazing to watch as opportunities arise for members in the chapter to get involved just to see how they jump on that,” Galgano said. “It’s really encouraging to see the younger generation participate in that kind of thing. Especially because I think when you look in the 60s and stuff, college students were always leading the charge on everything and I think that kind of got lost.”

Approximately one in four women and one in nine men have experienced intimate partner violence during their lifetime, according to the Center for Disease Control’s National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. Issues about unhealthy relationships have been increasingly appearing in headlines as celebrities speak out on social media.

“When you don’t talk about it, you’re letting it continue,” Galgano said. “And so by staying silent we allow those fears to continue and manifest and allow those women, or could be men, to feel that shame and they shouldn’t feel shame.”

Titterington said that social media can be a powerful tool.

“I am even in this work, and yet I was surprised by the number of friends I had that have their own stories to share,” Titterington said. “Media can help us in opening up and sharing about this and helping us to actually see how widespread it is. On the other side if media outlets are not trained to understand dynamics of domestic violence it can actually…continue those myths and misconceptions.”