MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama State University's Violence Against Women and Men Program invited The Family Sunshine Center and the Montgomery County Task Force on Domestic Violence to its campus for an anti-domestic violence movement on Sunday afternoon.
Students, faculty and representations from the group gathered in the university's amphitheater to hear brief speeches concerning the impact of domestic violence in Alabama.
Following the presentative, attendees held hands to form a "human chain" circle. Moments of silence, prayer and singing filled the air inside of the university's amphitheater as the participants honored those who have lost their lives or loved ones to domestic violence, which speakers called "the silent crime."
The deputy director for the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Jawandalyn Brooks, said the biggest issue Alabamians face with the issue of domestic violence is getting people to speak up about it.
"No one wants to talk about domestic violence, of course," Brooks said. "Everyone considers that a family issue."
However, Brooks and other community leaders said that mindset can be detrimental and can further the abuse. Brooks and Tony Garrett, with Central Alabama CrimeStoppers and Montgomery County's domestic violence task force, said there are more than 40 resources available to Alabamians suffering domestic violence.
Shea Muller is a prevention educator at the Family Sunshine Center, and she said there are non-physical red flags to usually spot for domestic violence reaches a place of physical danger.
"It starts with emotional sometimes," Muller said. "That's your verbal abuse and emotional abuse. A lot of times you'll see it go from the emotional to the physical. That's name calling and threats…things that aren't necessarily physical but can turn into physical abuse."
Muller said she makes a special effort to speak at elementary and middle schools because she said educating children about what healthy relationships look like so that they know when abuse is occurring.
For Cheryl Lang, director of ASU's program, it is important for students at ASU to participate in conversations about domestic violence because it is their issue as well.
"I have had students at this university go to prison because they were protecting their mothers from domestic violence situations," Lang said to the crowd of students.
Lang said that domestic violence on college campuses usually get lumped into dating violence, but that they go hand-in-hand.
"We have many students move off campus to live with their significant others," Lang said. "We want them to know that whether they are on or off campus, that we have no tolerance for domestic violence at ASU, and they are supported."
Lang said her program has a 24/7 call service for students, and that campus police are always on call.