The Department of Educational Equity and Inclusion presented a Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Symposium in the J.D. Boyd Library, Medgar Evers Auditorium on Tuesday, January 24, 2017 from 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm. Leaders from across the region came out to inform guests about how to work together to address and respond to sexual assault and domestic violence.
The welcome was given by Laura Drake, Office of Educational Equity and Inclusion. “Our mission is to inform all of you about ways to make Alcorn State University a safe haven where we can all grow, learn and have fun,” expressed Drake. The keynote speaker was Christy Pickering, CPA, IHL Board, who shared with attendees and guests how she found the strength to break free from an abusive relationship and offered advice on how to avoid unhealthy relationships altogether. The title of her presentation was Girl, You Deserve Better! Pickering stated, “Abuse does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone within any social class, race, or country. You never know what happens with abuse because it happens behind closed doors.” Pickering opened up about how she stayed in an abusive relationship, how she had hoped she could change him and how it had ultimately changed her. “You can’t change someone who doesn’t want to change. It is okay to say that you made a mistake and move on from it,” she stressed. She continued to share her experiences and talked about how she was finally able to gather the courage to leave after 21 years of abuse to reclaim her independence and inner strength.
A successful businesswoman and community leader, Pickering was raised in a loving family and rarely ever encountered conflict. As her career as a CPA was being spotlighted, the darkness in her own home became more and more private. Recognizing that many strong, capable women are domestic abuse victims, she hopes that by sharing her story, she can help expose what has remained behind closed doors for far too many women, for far too long.
After the speaker finished her presentation, Dr. Barbara Martin, Director, Counseling and Testing, introduced the moderator, Chief Douglas Stewart, Alcorn State University Police Department and panelists who was present to answer questions and provide discussion about sexual assault and domestic violence. The following were in attendance: LaShannon Butler, Guardian Shelter, Natchez, MS, Sheriff Frank Davis, Claiborne County, MS, Deputy Karen Ewing, Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Chief Calvin Jackson, Port Gibson Police Department, Lieutenant Penny Jones, Vicksburg Police Department, Attorney Patrick McNamara, Special Asst. to the Attorney General, Sherriff Martin Pace, Warren County, MS, Officer Trent Hudson, Fayette, MS, and Lieutenant Julius Steele, Natchez, MS.
LLJuna Weir, Director of Educational Equity and Inclusion, Alcorn State University, gave the closing remarks. “I am grateful to see everyone come out and see what our office is all about. If you have questions, we have answers. We have people around us to answer questions to get our students, faculty and staff the help that they need to get out. We have it, so let’s use it. Thank you all so much for coming out,” stated Weir.