Graduate: Violence is 'never right'
(Apr. 8, 2011)
Students and former students also spoke at the campus safety seminar April 8, adding their own experiences with violence, discrimination and sharing their efforts to help others.
Scott Jones, 20, is a second-year art student at ECU and is openly gay. In his hometown of Kinston, he felt alone and ostracized, he said, even by his own family. But once at ECU, he found acceptance within the campus’ Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered Student Union.
“Honestly, the GLBTU has probably saved my life,” he said, adding that the organization builds a “sense of community.”
“It shows how there’s not just me in the world. There are others like me,” said Jones, who’s now a leader of the organization.
Knowing there are other people in a similar situation is also important to Allen Thomas, only his experience involves domestic violence. Thomas, an ECU graduate and youth counselor with the North Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, grew up with a father who belittled him, threw him against walls, and beat him and his mother.
“I didn’t know how far off my household was until I was older,” Thomas said. “I lived 18 years in an abusive household, and the term ‘abuse’ never entered my mind. That was discipline. He did that because he loved me.”
In March 2008, he received a call to rush to Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville. There, he saw the bloody body of his dead mother, stabbed 25 times in the chest and more times in her arms as she tried to defend herself from his father’s attack.
He said he talks about his experiences because he wants to help others break the chain of violence before it takes a life.
“Domestic violence is never right,” Thomas said. “It’s always wrong.”
A third panelist was Catherine Parker, a recent graduate of ECU with a degree in health education and promotion with a concentration in community health. While at ECU, she organized a sexual assault candlelight vigil, Take Back the Night. She said support from university administration is vital to helping students know they are not alone and defenseless. Collaboration among advocacy groups is also important, she said.
“Who cares whether the name of your group is first or second on a T-shirt?” she said.