This October the Loyola Marymount University, Belles Service Organization hosted a variety of events on campus for Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVA). The LMU Belles is a group of 50 women, committed to making themselves available for on-campus service opportunities as well as on-going commitments to serve at specific non-profit agencies in Southern California, including Good Shepherd Shelter. Their primary social justice cause is domestic violence awareness.
VP of Spirituality, Adela Gallegos, explains that the Belles are “a service organization whose main goal is to help educate the LMU community about domestic violence, so they may then be able to become advocates for others. With 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men being affected by domestic violence, this is not an issue we can overlook or consider solely a "woman's issue". We need to stand together and show that we are here to help and support those who have survived and those who are still fighting for their lives within their own homes.”
LMU’s DVA month opened and closed with Silent Protests, where students wore tape over their mouths and held up statistics about domestic violence. The protest is not only meant to educate but it is also a way to stand in solidarity with those who have been silenced from domestic violence.
For the first year ever, the Belles hosted a 24-hour protest outside of their university library. In order to provide more information to curious peers, they had a table set up near the protest, where they also sold t-shirts as a way to fundraise for Good Shepherd Shelter. Several students asked to participate in the protest, which included individuals from Greek life, Athletics, Service Organizations along with faculty and staff.
Other events included a film screening of the documentary “Sin by Silence,” which tells the stories of women who are in prison for defending themselves against abusive partners. One of the women in the documentary, Glenda Virgil, came and spoke with the students about her story. Belles also hosted Self Defense Classes to help students learn to defend themselves and use the power of their voice.
On Tuesday October 27th, the LMU community was invited to a candlelight vigil to remember the many victims who have lost their lives and the many survivors who are still fighting. At the vigil, 5 anonymous stories of domestic violence victims were shared. To close the service, all were called to join in and pledge to be an advocate for others suffering from domestic violence.
A senior Belle member, Nina Lepp, explains how she has been “volunteering at Good Shepherd Shelter for three years now. Good Shepherd Shelter was reason that she joined the Belles Service Organization and the reason she feels so compelled to make sure LMU is aware of the patterns abuse and the solution to ending the generational cycle.”