By DELANIA TRIGG, Register Staff Writer
An event held Wednesday on the North Central Texas College Gainesville campus was designed to increase awareness of a dangerous, yet sometimes quiet menace — stalking.
Project REV (Resources for Ending Violence) coordinator Amy Mitchell led the first of five stalking awareness sessions planned for NCTC campuses.
Organizers said they hope the events help both students and faculty identify stalking behaviors and develop safety strategies.
Mitchell said she was pleased with Wednesday’s turnout in the NCTC student activity center.
“I was surprised by the number of students and staff members who stopped by to find out more (about our project),” she said, adding Project REV is a federally funded grant program which provides resources for victims of crimes including dating violence, sexual assault and stalking.
Project REV partners with Abigail’s Arms and Denton County Friends of the Family.
“We provide a lot of education, classroom presentations and awareness events on campus,” she said. “What we do here is an extension of Abigail’s Arms on this campus.”
The NCTC events coincide with a national dating violence and anti-stalking initiative observed each January.
Awareness efforts are important, Mitchell said, because they help individuals identify dangerous behavior in its early stages.
“A lot of college students don’t realize they are leading into a potentially violent situation,” said Abigail’s Arms community liaison Kelly Fiore-Watson. “They think it’s great that he’s texting them constantly and calling them and wanting to know where they are all the time but sometimes that’s a signal that something is wrong.”
Wednesday’s event also allowed some domestic violence survivors to share their stories in hopes of helping others.
One student, who asked that her name not be published, said domestic violence often makes survivors wary and less inclined to trust strangers.
“It changes you,” she said. “You’re questioning even when someone is actually being nice.”
The student said she’s grateful for help from Abigail’s Arms — Cooke County’s domestic violence resource agency.
Abigail’s Arms services are free and confidential, she added.
“You don’t have to worry about someone finding out (you’re seeking help,)” she said. “That’s the biggest thing when something bad is happening to you.”
Most stories of domestic violence have common themes, Mitchell said.
“For anyone who has experienced domestic violence, you are not alone,” she said. “The stories may be different but the core story is still the same and each story is valid.”
Stalking awareness events are planned on NCTC campuses on the following dates and times:
• Thursday, Jan. 24 — Graham campus — 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Student Center.
• Monday, Jan. 28 — Corinth campus — 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Commons Area.
• Wednesday, Jan. 30 — Bowie campus — 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Foyer.
• Thursday, Jan. 31 — Flower Mound Campus — 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Foyer.
If you or anyone you know is being stalked, or to find out more about stalking, Project REV can help.
Contact REV Coordinator Amy Mitchell (firstname.lastname@example.org) at 940-498-6429.