Project Freedom raises awareness on domestic violence
Lambda Sigma National Honor Society observed domestic violence month through Project Freedom, a program concerning women’s struggles with domestic violence and human trafficking.
The society held Project Freedom in the Keathley University Center Oct. 29 with a live band and free food, catered by local barbecue joint Slick Pig.
Young Women’s Christian Association worker Susan French opened the program by going through the statistics. She told the audience 1 in 3 women are a victim of domestic abuse and go through a never-ending cycle of violence.
“Leaving is a process, not an event,” French said.
Students also spoke out at the event, including 19-year-old former student Kaeleen Martin, who shared her experiences of researching human trafficking about five years ago.
Martin explained that human trafficking is a $32 billion dollar industry a year. For every 800 people who participate in this industry, one person is prosecuted.
She ended her presentation with a video from Falling Whistles, a campaign for peace to end the war in the Congo.
“Programs like this are great, but they are not broadcasted as they should be on campus,” said Brittany Ware, a junior majoring in social work.
Shaquanda Owens, a junior behavioral and human science major, also connected personally with the other student speaker, Kaitlin Howell.
“I grew up in a violent home to so I can relate to her,” Owens said. “It was amazing to hear that she has overcome so much in such a time of struggle. I was empowered by her as a person.”
Howell is a graduate of Mercy Ministries, a faith-based voluntary program for young women and victims of addiction, depression, sex trades and unplanned pregnancy.
She entered the program at a young age after being removed from her home by Child Protective Services. She described her life simply as “confusion,” facing neglect and violence.
Howell’s biological parents used her belief of God against her, and instilled the idea that this was the life God made for her. The called her a “slave.”
“I thought me and my siblings would never make it to 18. I had no value in my life, only darkness,” she said.
Upon her graduation from the program, she was adopted by a couple in their 40s.
Howell earned her GED and graduated summa cum laude from MTSU with a degree in biology. She is happily married and currently awaiting letters from medical schools. Vanderbilt is her first choice.
“[The program] hit home for a lot of people and it gave an opportunity for others to speak against domestic violence. We need to keep people educated,” Owens said.