Domestic violence seminar focuses on prevention and awareness

Published 9:37 am Monday, January 23, 2017

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

CLANTON —The Jefferson State Community College Chilton-Clanton campus hosted a domestic violence awareness and prevention seminar on Jan. 20.

Jeff State Police Chief Mark Bailey organized the event with Jeff State professors and professionals in health-related fields, who served as the featured speakers. This was the first year for the event, but Bailey plans to hold it at least once a year. There were 203 students from the Chilton and Shelby counties in attendance.

Bailey presented on prevention.

“We can talk a lot about what to do at the end after something happens, but it is more important to talk about how to stop it from happening in the first place,” Bailey said.

Bailey called the prevalence of domestic violence “unacceptable.”

“One in three women have been the victim of violence by an intimate partner at some time in their life,” Bailey said. “Forty percent of female murder victims are killed by intimate partners.”

About half of all sexual assaults are “date-rape issues,” Bailey said.

Many times, the drug used in date rape incidents is colorless and odorless. It is often stored in a bottle resembling vanilla extract.

“It’s a clue when someone is carrying that in their car. That is when we need to know, pick up the phone and let us know. Most people don’t walk around with vanilla flavoring in their pocket,” Bailey said.

Paying attention to drinks and level of alcohol consumed at a party is a preventative measure. Bailey recommended placing one’s hand over the top of their drink when not in use, and never setting it down where someone could slip something into it.  He also urged the audience to avoid drinking from punch bowls when they do not know the party’s host.

Binge drinking can also be a factor in sexual assault because the person is passed out. Bailey urged the audience to get a ride for anyone who has passed out, so they do not become a victim.

Eighty- five percent of sexual assault victims know their perpetrator. Baily said 38 percent of these are on the first date. He said it is important to have a cellphone and make sure someone knows where they are going in case something bad starts to happen.

Planning ahead is a strategy to prevent placing oneself in a potentially dangerous situation.

“No means no — that is something that we need to push in society. You have control over your body,” Bailey said.

A person’s emotional attachment to an intimate partner often keeps them from leaving an abusive relationship. Bailey said issues start small then have a snowball effect that leads to violence if not dealt with.

“If you have allowed something to become a norm, it becomes acceptable because we are allowing it,” Bailey said.

Good communication and promoting respectful nonviolent relationships are key to preventing this.

Walking away from an argument, so it does not escalate, is an option.

Preventing an attack from someone a person does not know largely depends on being aware of one’s surroundings. Bailey said looking at one’s phone while walking means that person is not aware of their surroundings and it makes them vulnerable to being a victim.

“Look people in the eye as you walk, and speak to them,” Bailey said.

This deters being a victim because a perpetrator does not want to be recognized.

When possible, Bailey recommended walking in groups.

“You need to be looking at the car as you approach it. You need to look in the backseat before you get into the car,” Bailey said.

Jeff State police has implemented an anonymous form on its website where students can report suspected domestic violence. This has allowed the police to help students who would not have reported any issues, but whose friends were able to provide information through this system.