Women’s Center and UNICEF club march for sexual and domestic violence awareness

Michael Lillywhite, Reporter

On Oct. 8, protesters met in the solarium with a vision to end the prolonged history of domestic and interpersonal violence.

Prior to the march, crowds gathered in the Summit Trail Solarium to hear from speakers, spoken word acts and a performance by One Acchord, a co-ed a cappella group. A sign making station and free refreshments were also available.

One Acchord chose sang songs that were directly related to the issue. To finish off the event prior to the march itself, the lyrics, “I’m fired up and tired of the way that things have been,” from the popular song “Believer” by Imagine Dragons, resonated throughout the solarium.

With the support of the Women’s Center, Yelisa Leiva, president of the App State United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund Club, was inspired to take action against limited education on the issue of domestic abuse through organizing a domestic and interpersonal violence awareness march.

“The idea of the event as a whole is to center on three things: empathy, recovery and community,” Leiva said.

“Sometimes, people’s home life is their biggest attacker,” said Melanie Turner, graduate assistant for the Women’s Center.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 40% of child abuse is reported from home.

“While relationship violence is highly talked about and has been for a long time, family and home life and child violence is much less talked about,” Turner said.

UNICEF is an international organization that focuses on children’s rights abroad.

“The issues of domestic violence affect children everyday, so we thought this would be a great opportunity to help,” Leiva said.

According to the Centers for Disease and Prevention, one in seven children suffer from child abuse every year, which inspired the event’s central focus on children. However, the event brought awareness to interpersonal violence, which is “still relevant and important to highlight,” Leiva said.

Turner said the organization of the event was a strenuous task, but working through inclement weather and a tedious set-up.

The event hosted speakers Kyra Patel, adviser of the Red Flag Campaign, Lillian Abernathy, a graduate assistant in the ACT office who has studied child abuse, and OASIS intern Abby Moran. Abernathy explained ways to help notice when a child is being abused.

After the march, there was an open house in Plemmons Student Union where the Women’s Center, LGBTQ Center and the Multicultural Center had contact tables set up to share their resources.