Eliana Mijangos




Texas Wesleyan University is hosting its first annual Dating Violence Awareness week, set to take place Feb. 21-24.


Patti Gearhart-Turner, chief of staff at Wesleyan, is heading up the event.


“National statistics indicate that the age group of our students places them in the highest risk group for dating violence,” Turner said. “The risk of sexual assault increases when alcohol or drug use is present. While I believe that Texas Wesleyan University provides a safe environment for our students, knowledge of the risks only helps each student individually.”


The event will kick off at noon Feb. 21 in Martin Hall. It will include pizza and a presentation from the women’s center titled “How to Protect Yourself and Your Partner.”


Feb. 22, a presentation on acquaintance rape will be given from 5:30 p.m.-6:30 p.m. in the lobby of Stella Hall.


The first 30 people to sign up for the events listed above will have the opportunity to attend a free seminar on self defense Feb. 23 in the Sid Richardson Building room 202.


Dr. Bill Ellison, director of the graduate counseling program at Wesleyan, said the self-defense seminar will be a lesson on Krav Maga, a defense originated and still practiced by Israeli defense forces.


“This seminar will be very effective for personal combat and common attacks like hair grabs and chokes,” Dr. Ellison said.


The week’s events will be sponsored by Student Life and the Athletic Department with special invitations going out to those involved in Greek Life.


“We are wanting students to watch their backs with friends,” Chris Windsor, associate dean of Student Life, said. “We are a small campus, but that doesn’t mean something harmful can’t happen.”


Both Ellison and Windsor said they hope to attract several hundred participants.


“We hope to raise awareness that dating violence occurs everywhere, and no one is immune,” Ellison said. “We think of dating violence as being accosted by someone we do not know, but actually over 80 percent of dating violence cases occur with people we consider friends.”


Windsor said it is also important to know how to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship.


“We want to educate people on warning signs and what to look for as a friend whether you see someone in an abusive relationship or some form of sexual violence,” he said.


Ellison said this is the first annual event, but will not be the last.


He said he will also be putting together a domestic violence week on Wesleyan’s campus for next October and will continue to spread awareness of dating violence throughout February.