By AMANDA JAMES
In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Domestic Abuse Resistance Team is remembering 22 people who lost their lives to domestic violence in North Central Louisiana. The rembrance comes, in part, from candlelight vigils and life-sized silhouettes.
“We are trying to get more involved at Louisiana Tech,” Amanda Maxwell, the community advocate for D.A.R.T., said. “We believe violence is a cycle, and we’re trying to end that cycle.”
Maxwell said the vigils are being held every Thursday in October in a different city in North Central Louisiana.
D.A.R.T. is also placing life-sized silhouettes in each city a week before the vigil, she said.
“The silhouettes are for the women and children in our area who have been killed in a domestic violence situation,” Maxwell said.
In addition to remembering those lost, the candlelight vigils will show how domestic violence affects the whole community, Maxwell said.
“It’s a way to express to the community how domestic violence affects the lives of everyone around them and how it branches out throughout the community,” she said.
Maxwell said the Ruston community and Tech community have aided D.A.R.T. in raising awareness of domestic violence.
Maxwell said Alpha Chi Omega sorority is providing refreshments after each vigil. She also said the sorority is setting up a booth in the Student Center, Main Floor each Monday in October to raise awareness for D.A.R.T.’s efforts against domestic violence.
“Alpha Chi Omega has gone above and beyond just volunteering for our vigil,” Maxwell said.
“They have taken it upon themselves to set up a booth raising awareness about this social problem.”
Maxwell said Sigma Nu fraternity has also volunteered to help out with the vigils by transporting and putting up the silhouettes in the different parishes.
“The gentlemen of Sigma Nu have taken on the tremendous and exhausting task of setting up the silhouettes in each parish,” Maxwell said.
“Not only have they volunteered to help, but they have come out in overwhelming numbers and with great enthusiasm toward our efforts.”
Kira Clement, president of Alpha Chi Omega and a senior biology major, said her sorority’s participation with D.A.R.T. has helped raise awareness of domestic violence.
“I really believe that through our chapter, D.A.R.T. has had more recognition on our campus,” Clement said. “People are more aware now of the ways in which D.A.R.T. can be of support to them and of the ways in which students can support D.A.R.T.”
Clement also said volunteering with D.A.R.T. has been positive for members of her sorority.
“I believe that the events we have organized through Alpha Chi have given our individual members a chance to step up and know they are doing something worthwhile for someone else,” Klement said. “It has also given us the knowledge and awareness of domestic abuse even in our own community.”
Luke Lockwood, president of Sigma Nu Fraternity and a senior civil engineering major, said his fraternity got involved with D.A.R.T. to serve women who have been a target of domestic violence.
“Sigma Nu decided to get involved with D.A.R.T. because D.A.R.T.’s target is women who are abused and battered by men,” Lockwood said.
“And what is a better way than for our fraternity, who teaches its members to be gentlemen at all times, to serve the women of the community with chivalry?”
Lockwood said he hopes working with D.A.R.T. will have a positive influence on his fraternity.
“First and foremost, I hope that the men of Sigma Nu will take from this what the women of D.A.R.T. take and that is the seriousness of domestic violence,” Lockwood said. “Sometimes movies and music can alter the perception of domestic violence as tolerable and acceptable, and this is a good reality check.
“Secondly, it will create an understanding and sympathy toward these victimized women and continue to give a helping hand,” Lockwood said.
“You never know who is a victim, and this will make us all even more conscious of showing kindness to women in general.”