Students often cope with domestic violence in silence

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MaKayla Bryant, a graduate student at Florida A&M University who was shot and killed in late January, had been a victim of domestic violence. She was by no means the only college student who has had to deal with domestic violence.

According to court documents, Precious Charlton, former partner of Bryant, was charged with battery for spitting in Bryant’s face after it was witnessed by a TPD officer on a physical disturbance call.

The couple was in an on-and-off relationship, according to the court records.

Domestic violence among college students is an often overlooked issue. It not only threatens a student’s performance in school, but it can also affect them physically and mentally.

According to, “In some circumstances, students may not define their experience as abusive, not recognizing emotional, verbal, sexual and financial abuse as all being aspects of an abusive relationship.”

Too often, students and others experience domestic violence in silence. Students coping with domestic violence are often afraid to speak out mainly because they are embarrassed or afraid.

According to, “42% of those who experienced abuse said they did not tell anyone about the abuse.”

A FAMU student who wishes to remain anonymous said that she was scared to speak out because experiencing domestic violence gave her no other choice but to fight back.

“I was in a very toxic relationship, a lot of manipulation and infidelity was going on, and it became so aggressive that I was both the aggressor and victim,” she said. “I did not speak out because I had a part in it. I kept everything silent.”

Florida A&M University’s counseling center provides a professional, safe atmosphere where students can discuss academic and personal issues. Domestic violence is not a stranger at the counseling center.

Dougla-Khan Stancil, a mental health professional at FAMU’s counseling center, said the center offers options for students dating and experiencing domestic violence.

“Couples counseling for domestic violence is not a recommended best practice therapy for domestic violence,” he said. “In these relationships, there is a power dynamic at hand that tends to play out in couples therapy. Engaging in couples counseling could also cause further abuse, so it is best for both to receive individual counseling services specific to that person’s aspect of the issue.”

The center aims to provide referrals to local agencies that can assist with counseling specific to domestic violence or help with relocation and victim advocacy.

Ongoing counseling is available if the student wants to continue.