Students honor victims and advocate against domestic violence


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Candles lit as students advocate against domestic violence.

Students, wrapped in blankets against the dark night’s cold, stood surrounding a candlelit heart and remembered murdered victims of local domestic violence.

Students put flowers inside the center of a candle formed heart as victims’ names were read aloud during the Breaking the Silence Speak Out & Vigil at the Forum Plaza on Oct. 29 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

After all the names were read, flowers for the unnamed and unknown victims were placed inside the heart as well.

In honor of October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Gender Equity Center and the Student Health and Counseling Services sponsored the vigil.

The event allowed students to advocate against intimate partner violence and offered resources to those in need.

A banner of purple ribbons and papers decorated the plaza. Each paper contained the name, age and date of death of a homicide victim of domestic violence in San Diego County from 2016 to 2019.

Informational booths tabled by CSUSM clubs and organizations included those from Feminists Unite, ASI, Strong Hearted Native Women’s Coalition Inc., Women’s Resource Center San Diego, the Hope & Wellness Center, It’s On Us CSUSM, SDVP, Black Student Center and the Gender Equity Center.

After checking in, the dozen or so students in attendance were given bags for pamphlets and goodies from the booths and blankets.

Leticia Marin, a first-year transfer and service-learning student working at the Hope & Wellness Center table, said she hopes students “learn more about domestic violence and what they can do to prevent it, facts and statistics.”

Dr. Lisa Lim, a psychologist from Student Health and Counseling Services, led a grounding exercise in which participants practiced breathing and focused on self-awareness. She said the techniques are particularly useful during triggering or uncomfortable moments.

Melissa Canales, an intern at the Hope & Wellness Center, defined domestic violence as “a pattern of behavior which involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic way … [and] can take place in a heterosexual or same-sex relationship or between former spouses or partners.” 

“Many forms include physical, verbal, emotional, economic, religious, reproductive and sexual abuse,” she said.

Canales, who offered a history of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, thanked those attending “… for being a part of this movement and creating social change by refusing to be invisible, refusing to be silent and refusing to be still.” 

One student recited her poem recounting domestic violence against her.

At the vigil’s end, students gathered around the heart and discussed what could be done to stop domestic violence. 

One student encouraged others to speak up and not turn the other cheek. Another suggested taking in a victim for a few days or weeks as necessary. Many people around the circle agreed that staying silent wasn’t an option.

Earlier, Canales said, “We will be seen, we will be heard and we will use this movement to end domestic violence.”

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