California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

California Lutheran University's Student Newspaper Since 1961

The Echo

Criminology and Criminal Justice Department hosts film and panel discussion for domestic violence awareness

Daisy Calderon Arredondo
From left to right, employees for the Coalition of Family Harmony Yesenia Hernandez, Marisela Yanez and Laura Morales were the panelists invited to speak.

California Lutheran University’s Criminology and Criminal Justice Department hosted a domestic violence awareness tabling event, film and panel discussion on Thursday, Oct. 26 to raise awareness about the issue in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The event was spearheaded by students from Cal Lutheran’s Family Violence class and presented in collaboration with the Coalition for Family Harmony. 

“We have done events for Domestic Violence Awareness Month every single October. I teach the Family Violence course here on campus, so we typically work with the coalition to do this every single semester,” Criminology and Criminal Justice Department Chair and Professor Schannae Lucas said. “But this semester, I really wanted to get the students involved so part of my assignment in class was a service learning project for students.”

The panelists invited to speak were Marisela Yanez, Yesenia Hernandez and Laura Morales, who are all current employees of the Coalition of Family Harmony, and their discussion focused on the prevalence of domestic violence within small communities. 

Students and the Cal Lutheran community were provided with the opportunity to watch “Telling Amy’s Story,” a documentary that recounts the domestic violence disputes that led to the death of Amy McGee in November 2001.

Lucas said Cal Lutheran, and specifically her classes, have been working closely with the Coalition for Family Harmony for a number of years to provide awareness about domestic violence issues to students, staff and faculty.

Lucas’ students had the option to choose between interviewing someone, reading a book on domestic violence, or participating in a service learning opportunity. She said six students within her class chose the service project and were tasked with working together with the coalition to bring their resources onto campus. 

“We all got together and came up with the idea to partner with the coalition, and Dr. Lucas has been very helpful in connecting us with them,” Yanely Lara, senior and psychology major, said. “So it was good to…bring it to college campuses because we feel it’s a very underrated topic to talk about.”

Lara said some of her classmates worked on a newsletter and a resource pamphlet, which were important to get the word out about the event. 

According to the film, one in four women in the United States are assaulted by their partners in their lifetime. Since the release of the film in 2010, the number has grown to one in three women according to statistics from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 41% of women and 26% of men experienced contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner and reported an intimate partner violence-related impact. 

Criminal Justice major Desiree Hernandez said the positive connotations associated with toxic relationships are a large reason why domestic violence is so widespread in the United States. 

“It’s usually seen as normal, the toxic relationship is really promoted, but with this class, we’re learning that it’s not something to be proud of and just…telling students that it’s not fine and that there are resourced out here to help you,” Hernandez said. 

During the discussion portion of the event, audience members had the opportunity to ask the panelists questions about the film, including general questions about domestic violence and the work the coalition does in Ventura County. 

Currently, the coalition has two shelters; one for indigenous community members and one for the general public Ventura County area. According to their website, advocates for the coalition provide assistance to victims from initially seeking help to transition into a shelter. 

A key point emphasized during the panelists’ discussion was the importance of safety planning and how it can positively impact a victim’s journey. This was further emphasized when audience members posed questions about safety from domestic violence and warning signs. 

The event included information tables where participants could pick up pamphlets and learn more about the Criminology Department. A raffle was also conducted by students for those in attendance. 

According to Lucas, bringing engaging discussions about topics such as domestic violence plays an important role in prevention and assisting those in need. She said she hopes audience members were able to get a better understanding of the issue through the film and panelists’ answers.

“Often, when domestic violence happens, one does not identify with that label. They know they are harmed or sad or they feel uncomfortable, but they don’t put that label with it,” Lucas said. 

Lucas said the reality of domestic violence can be an issue of power and control with one’s partner, and said knowing situations like this exist and finding ways to get out of that space is important. 

“I’m just happy we can bring this topic to the campus and bring awareness about this issue during October,” Lucas said.

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    YanelyOct 31, 2023 at 8:00 am

    Thank you to everyone who attended and helped spread the awareness!