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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Shattered homes, tattered lives

For April Millaway, domestic violence is more than a community issue.
Millaway, the assistant for women’s programs development in the Office of Gender Issues and Education Services, said she personally has been affected by domestic violence and has been working for years through various organizations to help domestic violence victims.
“Two weeks after graduating high school, my Biology II teacher was murdered by a man she had dated,” Millaway said. “Since that time, I have definitely opened my eyes to the reality of domestic violence in the U.S.”
After the death of her high school teacher, Millaway joined Alpha Chi Omega at the University of Oklahoma. Alpha Chi Omega’s philanthropy is domestic violence, Millaway said.
Millaway volunteered throughout college at a local domestic violence shelter. She said she made overnight bags for women escaping abuse and provided supplies for their children.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence said more than 50 percent of all women will experience violence from intimate partners.
The Office of Gender Issues and Education Services at Texas A&M is sponsoring the Clothesline Project in the Memorial Student Center Flagroom Oct. 22 to 23 to raise awareness about domestic violence. The Clothesline Project is a display of colored T-shirts with personalized messages from women, men and children from around the world who have survived domestic violence.
Millaway oversees the clothesline project at A&M.
“The Clothesline Project allows us to know the magnitude of the impact that these experiences have on people’s lives,” Millaway said.
The Clothesline Project began in Cape Cod, Mass., by Rachel Carey-Harper of the Cape Cod Women’s Agenda. The project was launched in October 1990 with 31 shirts on display, Millaway said.
Millaway said the Office of Gender Issues will host Defending Our Lives: Film on Domestic Violence and modern dance performances on Oct. 31. Aggies can volunteer at local shelters in addition to supporting the events scheduled to raise awareness for domestic violence.
Phoebe’s Home, an area shelter sponsored by Twin City Missions, will have its annual fall festival Oct. 31.
Mindy Mattheus, volunteer coordinator for Phoebe’s Home, said last year’s festival was a great success. More than 50 people volunteered at the festival.
“The kids were having so much fun,” Mattheus said. “The parents had fun just watching them have such a good time.”
This year, the shelter will provide costumes, pumpkin decorating and face painting.
“We try to keep it as normal as possible for [the kids],” she said.
Mattheus said the fall festival gives the residents something to look forward to and an alternative to roaming the neighborhood.
“The kids go to school and they hear about the other kids’ plans for Halloween, and we don’t want them to feel left out,” Mattheus said.
Phoebe’s Home provides a free, temporary emergency shelter for victims of domestic violence.
Phoebe’s Home provides food, clothing, legal aid, medical referrals, parenting skills classes, counseling and case management services. These services also are available to victims of domestic violence who are not residents at Phoebe’s Home.
Visitors to Phoebe’s Home are given the resources to get their lives in order. The goal is for the resident to become self-sufficient with a job and housing.
Mattheus had no experience with domestic violence prior to working at Phoebe’s Home.
“I have learned that domestic violence has no boundaries,” Mattheus said. “It can affect anyone.”
Melissa Mobley, a training specialist at Phoebe’s Home, said Phoebe’s Home heads up task forces in the counties surrounding Brazos County. Each task force works with a training specialist from Phoebe’s Home to provide outreach services, Mobley said.
“We go into schools to educate students about how to be a good friend to someone dealing with family violence or dating violence,” Mobley said. “We also try to promote healthy relationships at a young age.”
Mobley has been working at Phoebe’s Home for one month.
“I have always enjoyed working in non-profit organizations, and I especially liked the outreach program’s goal of education,” Mobley said.
In Leon County, the task force is hosting an area-wide women’s meeting to promote domestic violence awareness.
Domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse. Rape and sexual abuse are both part of domestic violence.
The Brazos County Rape Crisis Center provides services for victims of sexual violence. The Rape Crisis Center offers a 24-hour hotline and victims can call to receive counseling or request an escort to the hospital.
Marta Nichols, volunteer coordinator with the Rape Crisis Center, said when a rape victim goes to the emergency room, the hospital calls the hotline, and a volunteer meets the victim at the hospital. The volunteer brings a care package with a change of clothes, shampoo and soap inside.
“The volunteer will stay as long as the victim wants them to,” Nichols said. “The rape kit can take two to four hours, and we can stay as long as needed.”
The Rape Crisis Center has offered in-house counseling for more than 13 years. The counseling is not limited to victims. The Crisis Center also helps family and friends of someone who has been subjected to sexual violence, she said.

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