The Students Anti-Violence Advocates club hosted Mega Monday this week in hopes to spread awareness on domestic violence, in honor of the late Professor Debra Vazquez.
“SAVA was established because of Professor Vazquez,” said Katy Jordan, a current student and secretary of SAVA. “She was killed because of a physically abusive relationship.”
According to Jordan, SAVA was created after Vazquez’s murder in 2004, to help CF students or faculty members seek support if they find themselves in an abusive relationship.
“I joined SAVA because I just wanted to give a voice to people that are afraid to speak up,” Jordan said. “I was afraid for a long time while in an abusive relationship.”
SAVA wished to honor Vazquez in this weeks Mega Monday, by having guest speaker Tasha Browning lecture on domestic violence in a question-answer like seminar.
“We are not going to just sit here and lecture on domestic abuse.” said Angelique Alarcon, president of SAVA. “Please ask questions or doubts, any thing that comes into your mind, we want this to be interactive.”
Browning is a licensed mental health counselor and yoga teacher at Supportive Connections medical practice located at 2335 NW 10th St. in Ocala. Supportive Connections specializes in trauma and domestic violence through therapy on an emotional, physical and even spiritual level, including offering a yoga therapy option to help heal the soul.
“If you break domestic violence down to its core, it means a lot of different things,” Browning said. “In domestic violent situations we are not just dealing with the violence, we are dealing with the emotional abuse, the physical abuse, the mental abuse, and there is also a spiritual component in any type of trauma these people face.”
Browning was able to capture the attention of every student that attended the seminar, even though the lecture hall in Building 8, Room 110, was at almost full capacity. Browning began by explaining the different stages that victims in a domestic violence relationship go through.
“I was brought here today with the question, ‘Why do domestic victims stay in abusive relationships?’” Browning said. “Domestic violence usually occurs in long term relationships, so after the initial honeymoon phase the abuser then gains control over a victim first through idolization, and then by isolation. Often, a victim doesn’t even realize they are being abuse until its to late, and they end up in the last stage of a domestic violent relationship: Death.”
SAVA’s goal to have an interactive seminar was a huge success. Students one-after-another had questions about domestic violence and some students even shared their own stories of being domestic violence survivors.
Kyra Riley, vice president of SAVA for instance was once in an abusive relationship, and asked Browning if there is ever a point in which a victim of an abusive relationship, ever fully heals from the mental trauma inflicted, or if its something a person will carry with them forever?
“Absolutely, you can be healed from it,” Browning said. “It might be something that happened to you, so its apart of your life experience, but things that happen to you don’t have to become you. You can be healed from it, but you have to do the work and take the journey.”
After the lecture ended, Browning received a heavy applause from the audience, and was then presented with an award from SAVA members for departing domestic violence knowledge with the students of CF.
SAVA will be hosting another domestic violence awareness campaign in March later this year, called the Walk of Hope, which will also be dedicated to the memory of Vazquez.
Story and photos by: Brianna Woodbury