Texas Southmost College, in conjunction with the Cameron County District Attorney Coalition, hosted a Domestic Violence Awareness Event at the Oliveira Student Center on Wednesday, October 18, 2022. 

This was the 6th annual occurrence of the event, created and spearheaded by Texas Southmost College Interim Dean of Arts & Sciences and Chair of Behavioral and Social Sciences Dr. Christopher Alves. 

“I was a law enforcement officer for eighteen years in the state of North Carolina, and for two of those years, I was a domestic violence officer,” said Alves. “I saw a lot of pain as an officer. I saw a lot of women in pain, I saw a lot of men in pain, and most importantly, I saw a lot of children in pain, so I created an event in North Carolina and decided to bring it here to the Rio Grande Valley, mainly because of the amount of domestic violence that occurs here. As a Latino male, I know that domestic violence is a part of our culture, and I’m willing to change that. I want to change that.” 

Joining him were a group of guest speakers to address the audience, mostly comprised of students from Brownsville ISD high schools, and inform them of both the dangers and warning signs to look for with domestic abuse. 

Shelly Page, Associate Professor of Law and Director of Experimental Education at the University of Southern Illinois, spoke on the importance of identifying red flags in relationships. “If you don’t stand up for you, nobody else will” Page told the audience as she gave examples tactics that abusers employ to in unhealthy relationships, such as abuse of drugs, monitoring their partner’s activities and isolating them from their family and loved ones. 

Gabriel Garcia, a Community Outreach Specialist for the Cameron County District Attorney’s Office, gave information about gaslighting, a topic which has gained an increasing amount of attention over the past few years. “Gaslighting is a deliberate attempt to bend the truth to emotionally manipulate a person through self-doubt,” Garcia told the audience before giving examples of different forms of gaslighting. He also explained how certain phrases can be used by abusers to further distort the reality of their victims. “Gaslighting works on your perception of reality,” he began, “but it also works on questioning your own feelings.” 

A presentation on the dangers of stalking, harassment and domestic abuse was also given by Assistant District Attorney Melissa Muñoz. 

Incidents of stalking, Muñoz explained, are most often committed by former romantic partners of those whom they choose to stalk, and social media has made it easier for stalkers to gain personal access to their victims. In addition, she informed the audience of methods which can be used in order to address incidents of stalking, such as creating a paper trail and saving screenshots which can be provided to law enforcement. 

“There is such an importance in documenting cases like these,” she told the audience, explaining that having concrete forms of evidence often results in victims obtaining protective orders against their stalkers. She also further urged those who are adjacent to situations of domestic abuse not to remain silent. “Domestic violence is everyone’s business, and we have to take it upon ourselves to make it that way,” said Muñoz, urging people to have the difficult conversations and be an advocate for those who are suffering from abuse. 

TSC President Jesus Roberto Rodriguez, Ph.D., expressed gratitude to the guest speakers for sharing their insight with the gathered group of young students, and he emphasized that there are counseling services available on campus where victims of abuse can seek assistance. “If not you, who?” he asked, “If not now, when? If not today, why not? We are here to help you. We want to help you.” 

If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic abuse, the national domestic violence hotline is 800-799-7233. TSC students can reach out to the office of Counseling and Student Accessibility Resources at the Lightner Center or at 956-295-3587. In cases of immediate and imminent danger, please call 911.