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Dubose shares platform to raise awareness

Danielle Dubose, the current Miss Alabama spreads awareness about domestic violence. Photo courtesy of Danielle Dubose

Tatum Roessler

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Danielle Dubose is the current Miss University of Alabama. October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, is a time for Dubose to share her platform across campus to help raise awareness.

Why did you choose domestic violence as your platform for Miss UA?

It is a very underserved issue. I was first exposed to it when I was vice president of philanthropy for Alpha Chi Omega, and our national philanthropy is Domestic Violence Awareness. I coordinated Walk a Mile in Her Shoes to raise money for a local shelter here, and I did outreach to raise awareness for dating violence. I started getting into a dialogue with that, and I started to realize how many people were affected by it. Students would come up to me in the Ferguson Center when I was passing out pledge cards, telling me how they had been affected by it and thanking me for my sorority raising awareness about the cause. After I was done with being VP of philanthropy, I still wanted to give back to domestic violence awareness and be active with the issue. So I was able to form my platform [for Miss UA] off of that.

What have you done so far to promote awareness for domestic violence?

I founded a group with three other women through the Women’s Resource Center that gives presentations to sorority chapters about abusive relationships and dating violence education. We went through 10 hours of training with the Women’s Resource Center. We developed a program with information we thought would be relevant for sorority women in an interesting and engaging format. We have give 10 presentations so far to nine different sororities and have reached over 2,000 women. That is my main passion, reaching out to that group, and that’s what I have done in the past, and now I am hoping to expand that outreach.

What are your future plans in promoting awareness for the cause?

In November, we have Shatter the Silence, and we are bringing a big speaker, Sharon Love, who founded the One Love Foundation, which raises awareness for domestic violence. Her daughter was a victim of relationship violence at the University of Virginia, and Love goes around the country speaking about this issue and trying to educate college women about the warning signs and things that may have helped her daughter in that situation. We are also going to have a discussion panel of experts in the field; there will be a lot of dialogue around it. Also, there will be a student speaker who was a victim of domestic violence as well. The goal is to influence students to be more than bystanders when it comes to abusive situations and to show victims they are not alone and there are ways to get help. Shatter the Silence will be held on Nov. 10 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. in the North Zone of the stadium, and it will be worth two Panhellenic points. We are trying to reach a broad demographic with the event, men and women, Greek and non-Greek. It is an issue that affects everyone. Women ages 16 to 24 are most likely to be victims of domestic violence, and that is why I am so passionate about this issue while we are in college.

You recently partnered with Verizon to help promote awareness for the cause. What do you plan to do with that partnership?

Verizon has some really great initiative for domestic violence awareness. We are doing a drive called the Hopeline drive, and it’s a phone drive. You can turn in your used cell phones at the dean of students’ office or the Women’s Resource Center. Verizon takes the phones and refurbishes them and gives them to domestic violence victims who a lot of the time may need a safe phone for their situation. Also, if you get on Twitter and post a message of hope using the hashtag #voiceshavepower or a text to 94079, they will donate $3 to dating and domestic violence awareness programs for each message.

Why is it important for men and women to be educated about domestic violence?

It is definitely important for all young people. Our age group is the most likely to experience abuse. It does not surpass any gender barriers, and it can really affect anybody. The issue cannot be fixed unless everyone is working towards safer and healthier relationships.

What is one thing that people may not know, or a misconception people may have, about domestic violence?

I think a huge misconception about abusive relationships is it is not just physical or sexual violence that can cause a lot of damage to the victim. A lot of things I see when talking with women, and through my presentations, is the damage that emotional and verbal abuse, isolation, coercion and threats cause – those are all forms of domestic violence. Even the verbal and emotional abuse is domestic violence, because it is all about trying to control and exert power over the victim. That is my goal of the presentations is to give all of this a name and define it, so people realize they do not have to go through that and they can seek help for it.

Why is it important at the college age to be educated about domestic violence?

When we come to college we are very isolated in our own environment here. You are meeting people for the first time and making a whole new set of friends. I am very passionate about educating women when they first come to college because it is very easy to get caught up in a controlling relationship because of a new environment.

How can other students on campus get involved in promoting the cause?

Definitely by coming to the Shatter the Silence event on Nov. 10, that is definitely a first step. Also by donating a phone for the Hopeline drive. The Women’s Resource Center is having a lot of events and initiatives this month for Domestic Violence Awareness Month. At the Center, they have purple ribbons for students to wear, so students can go by their office to get ribbons to show their support for the cause. Also the Women’s Resource Center is having a bystander intervention panel on Oct. 23. They will have more events throughout the month as well, so students can go and get involved with the cause. I also think a good way to help is not to be a bystander in these situations and educating yourself. Know the signs of an abusive relationship, and if a friend comes and tells you they may be experiencing an abusive relationship, help them and support them and let them know you are there for them.

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Dubose shares platform to raise awareness