Speakers raise awareness of domestic violence, breast cancer at Women’s Center

Two guest speakers addressed the Center for Women’s Studies this week with relevant topics such as domestic and emotional violence and breast cancer awareness.

Jessica Simpson of SafePlace spoke with students Oct. 10 regarding domestic violence. She said one in four women experience domestic violence within their lifetime.

“It’s a lot easier to say a woman is being abused when you see her walking around with a black eye,” Simpson said. “Domestic and emotional violence is real, and it’s happening.”

Red flags of domestic violence include such intimidation as feeling threatened without even being spoken to and basic name-calling, Simpson said.

“Emotional abuse isn’t about stress, alcohol or out-of-control anger,” Simpson said. “It’s about power and control. When a predator begins name-calling, he’s separating himself from the woman as a person because it is easier to abuse something you don’t see as a person.”

Grace Oaks, a senior attending the seminar, attested to the fear and control women seem to experience.

“I work in a gym where the women are going to talk to you about whatever they can,” Oaks said. “These women eat because food is the one thing they feel like they can control. It happens more often than you would think and to people you wouldn’t expect.”

Simpson emphasized the importance of learning the warning signs of emotional abuse, as many people, both male and female, are raised in homes condoning emotional abuse.

“Many women won’t get help until they hit rock bottom, but it’s because they’re scared,” Simpson said. “They feel like there’s no way out and that they won’t have economic stability. Just the fact that SafePlace exists is a huge deal to these people — it’s free, confidential and available 24/7, including 3 a.m. Christmas morning.”

The Center for Women’s Studies raised awareness about October being Domestic Violence Month by passing out purple ribbons for students to wear throughout the month and encouraged them to continue wearing pink for breast cancer awareness.

Bonita McCay of the Northwest Alabama Community Health Association spoke with students Oct. 12 about breast cancer and the Well Woman Project.

“Despite what people think, we are at the forefront of conquering this disease,” McCay said. “Reports show that cancer has dropped remarkably due to estrogen therapy increases, and more than 80 percent of people with breast cancer survive.”

McCay encouraged not only females but males to practice self-exams regularly, and invited all of the students to Paint it Pink Oct. 13 at Regency Mall, where organizations such as Mark Kay, Hospice of North Alabama, Curves, Shoals Hospital and the Alabama Department of Public Health, along with numerous others, came together to educate the public about the dangers of breast cancer.

“It’s critical, especially for college girls, to know your body,” said Jennifer Jackson, Ultrasound and MRI specialist of Shoals Hospital. “The rate of breast cancer is being found more and more in younger women. A lot of women haven’t been taught how to do self-exams, but they can always learn from their OB-GYN.”

The Center for Women’s Studies currently has multiple pamphlets regarding both breast cancer awareness and self-exam instruction guides for students to learn about and thus prevent breast cancer.

McCay closed by explaining the importance of coming together for such supportive events and contributed several shirts to the upcoming Clothesline Project and Take Back the Night, both occurring this month.

“With all the anger and hate around us, there is really no better month to follow it up with love and compassion than October,” she said.