WT marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month with silent witnesses, information fair

Local News

CANYON, Texas (KAMR/KCIT ) – West Texas A&M is hoping some silent figures will speak volumes during Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

For at least a fifth year, according to the University, about a dozen Silent Witness cutouts have been placed around the Canyon campus, each one bearing a placard telling the story of a victim of domestic violence as well as a card describing other forms of abusive behavior.

“Domestic violence is at an epidemic level,” said Kathy Tortereo, director of crisis services for Family Support Services. “The latest statistics show that 1 in 4 women have been the victim of physical violence by an intimate partner, and college-age adults, the 18 to 24 demographic, are at a higher risk than people in other age brackets.”

WT’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month activities will also reportedly include an information fair from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 14 on the Charles K and Barbara Kerr Vaughn Pedestrian Mall, held along with the Family Support Services of Amarillo.

“The Silent Witnesses are great visual reminders of what can go wrong in relationships and are important ways to educate students on what healthy relationships look like,” said Georganna Ecker, director of WT’s Civil Rights and Title IX Department.

Silent Witnesses are on display outside of the UPD offices, the Title IX office, and the University bookstore; on the fourth floor of Old Main; and inside the Office of Student Engagement and Leadership, human resources, and the Dining Hall. Three are rotated between WT’s residence hall throughout the month as well, says the University.

“We put them in very visible places. We want them to be where there’s traffic so that people will stop and look at them,” said Lt. Barbara Ferrara, head of the WT’s University Police Department’s Criminal Investigations Division. “Our hope is that the facts will stick in their minds and that they’ll report something that’s happening to them or if they see something happening to someone else.”

Family Support Services says that it will post frequently during October on its Facebook page, as most in-person events have been curtailed during the ongoing pandemic.

Amarillo-area residents can walk a mil against domestic violence on Oct. 24, and are encouraged to post photos on social media to boost awareness.

According to the Title IX office, in the 2019-2020 academic year they received 13 reports of dating or domestic violence. Thus far in the 2020-2021 academic year, six reports have been received.

Serving students is reported as a component of the University’s long-term plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World.

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