Progressive Black Men teamed up with the Beta Alpha chapter of Delta Sigma Theta sorority to host Red Light Green Light Part 2. The program aimed to teach students the warning signs of being in a toxic relationship and how to end domestic violence.
Tuesday’s event consisted of learning about legislation that will affect domestic violence survivors, a performance by Voices Poetry group, and guest speaker Vanessa Gonzalez.
The event opened with learning about bills that lawmakers will be voting on in the current legislative session. One bill, SB 1206, would prohibit people from buying firearms if they have been convicted of domestic violence.
After three members of Voices shared spoken word based on domestic violence, Kamiah Milliner told her story of surviving domestic abuse and the experience she faced when she tried to leave her boyfriend.
“I was pushing him off me and he would not let go. So, I grabbed my key and I twisted into his side so he would move. And after that, all I know is he is punching me. I didn’t register what happened, I felt numb,” she said. “So, he’s looking at me shaking and I’m like, ‘What’s wrong?’
“And I looked in the mirror and I see my face and I look like a completely different person. My lip was busted, I had a black eye. I had never seen myself like that,” said Milliner.
“I felt embarrassed, I didn’t want to tell anybody. I didn’t really want to tell anybody until recently. When I told Twitter, that’s when my friends found out the whole story. I felt ashamed, I felt stupid, I felt weak, it was just a terrible feeling. Especially because I went back.”
After sharing her story, Milliner offered words of encouragement for people who could be going through the same thing:
“You’re not stupid if you don’t leave. I understand why, it’s not the easiest thing to do. Don’t ever feel like you’re stupid or weak or less of a woman because you’re staying. If anything, I feel like you’re strong,” said Milliner.
Gonzalez, a community coordinator with Refugee House, says that there are three phases in the cycle of abuse. The honeymoon phase, the tension phase and the explosion.
“Our survivors in our shelter say that this is the worst phase, the tension building phase. Because they could feel like they have to walk on eggshells because they don’t know when the explosion is going to happen,” she said.
“They much rather have the explosion happen and actually have it happen then be sitting and waiting to see if they’re actual going to die or not.”
Gonzalez also talked about some of they myths that come with domestic violence. For example, people who are abused in the past are not more likely to be abusers themselves.
“Violence is a choice, it’s not ingrained in you. You choose to be violent,” Gonzalez explained.
Another myth is that substance abuse can cause violence.
“Absolutely not true, that is a lie. There’s a correlation between the two but as I said in the first one. Violence is a choice, being drunk does not automatically make you aggressive.”
Bianca Dacres, a sophomore political science major, said she enjoyed the event and was a little surprised by the statistics.
“The biggest one was that a woman is abused or assaulted within every 15 seconds. That was just the craziest one that I remembered and will stick with me,” she said.
Dacres also believes that organizations should host more events like this.
“I definitely feel like the bigger organizations should host events like this just because it makes it more aware and makes the conversation constant and comfortable on campus.” Dacres said.