By Solomon Wilson
People gathered outside the women’s empowerment center as they discussed marching protocol at noon Oct. 15 for the fourth annual march during Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
“We have about 50 shirts,” said Helen Vera, organizer and chair of services for women and non-traditional students.
About 30 members of the Non-Traditional Students Club and supporters began forming a V-formation that stretched across college walkways.
“Break the silence” and “You are braver than what you are,” were among messages printed on white shirts in bright colors hung from a clothesline.
Police escorted the group dressed in matching shirts and chanting “Love doesn’t hurt” as they made their way across campus between classroom buildings.
“I like getting involved and having my voice heard,” said Stephanie Contreras, a dental hygiene sophomore, as she led the group, her voice echoing through a bullhorn.
The passion they felt for their message was evident in their eyes and raised voices. Their chants echoed throughout campus.
“I am doing this because I am a survivor of child abuse,” said nursing freshman April Ohem as she marched with the clothesline contingent to spread the message that domestic violence can be prevented and overcome.
The president of this college, Dr. Robert Vela, said, “It promotes safety and awareness to our students.” Vela helped carry the clothesline laced with shirts through the mall and into Loftin Student Center.
At the march’s end, some of the women shared their own survival stories about domestic abuse.
Katherine Alexander, a paralegal studies sophomore, engaged the crowd in her personal survival story.
She detailed the abuse she endured, including a beating in which she was thrown across a room in front of her children.
After her story, she told The Ranger, “It was nerve-racking, but I wanted to get my message out there.”
As the ceremony came to an end, emotions ran high among the 50 gathered and participants shared hugs while the clothesline with shirts were hung around the staircase in Loftin.
They will be on display for the rest of October.
For more information, visit www.ncadv.org for resources from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
For more information on the women’s empowerment center, call 210-486-0455.