It starts with an insult — nothing to worry about. It moves on to a shove, an “accident,” an emotional reaction the person couldn’t control. It escalates to a slap, a punch, but every time it’s only a one time thing right? Then it happens again: bruises on the body; psychological wounds that can’t be seen by the outside world. The abusive behavior continues until one day it ends in cold blood.
These are the phases of domestic violence and it affects both students and staff on campus.
Almost a decade ago, Santa Ana College lost one of its faculty to domestic violence. Kesha Curtis, a communications professor, was killed by her husband in a murder-suicide. Kesha had been in a 10-year relationship with her spouse, which gave her two daughters but ended in death. Although tragic, Kesha’s case is more than common.
“I think it’s a very important issue and I don’t think enough people know about Kesha,” said Women’s Empowerment Club President Luisa Lopez Alejandre at an October event in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
According to an informal survey of SAC students, most know someone who has dealt with domestic violence. The survey contradicts the official reports of domestic violence at SAC, a total of five over the years of 2016-2017, according to the district’s Annual Security Report. Just because domestic violence is not reported, does not mean it’s not happening. It is one of the most underreported crimes with an estimated 1.5 million people battered yearly, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. It’s a subject that’s almost taboo, despite the reality that it happens in every community, regardless of race, gender or sexuality.
Several campus clubs hosted events in honor of Kesha and Domestic Violence Awareness month. The communication studies department and Communication Studies Club hosted an event called “Ending the Silence to Domestic Violence,” where attendees were able learn about the cycle of violence and what personal challenges one might take to make a difference.
The Women’s Empowerment Club hosted an event the following day, where students and faculty shared personal stories and participated in an open dialogue about domestic violence. Speakers discussed their experiences, like Demetria Moore, a real estate agent who grew up in an abusive household; her mother was eventually shot multiple times by her father.
“I see this type of abuse everyday with my clients,” said Moore.
A clothing drive in memory of Kesha took place all month long, with proceeds being donated to a local non-profit organization that helps those dealing with domestic abuse.
These events are a reminder that we should not just forget about the issue and go back to our everyday lives. As Communications Professor Lance Lockwood said, “Holding one day or event in remembrance of Kesha is kind of trite.”
But not every altercation has to escalate to a point of no escape. Many domestic violence situations stem from the “known devil syndrome” meaning that victims believe that their lives with their abusers is better than dealing with an unknown environment. Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t, right? Until it’s too late, one weekend too late, like Kesha.
If you are in immediate danger, call 9-1-1.
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
The Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860