Attention all USC students, can you believe we’re halfway through the semester? And although I know you all are studying for midterms and getting ready for Conquest, Homecoming, the UCLA game and things like that, there’s something we have to address.

In case you didn’t know, this month is not only Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but it’s also Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Take time out of your busy schedules and attend the Candlelight Vigil on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 7 p.m. at Tommy Trojan. This candlelight vigil is hosted every year during the month of October, in order to further spread awareness in the USC community. The event is brought to you by the lovely ladies at Alpha Chi Omega (AXO) Sorority.

AXO adopted this cause in the early 1990s, due to the lack of help for women and children in abusive homes, as well as the lack of education concerning domestic violence. The statistics on how common domestic violence is staggering. It’s a chain of violence that affects not only women, but men and children. Some experts say that witnessing violence as a child is associated with adult reports of depression, trauma-related symptoms, low self-esteem among women and trauma-related symptoms among men.

According to statistics, nearly one in five teenage girls who have been in a relationship said a boyfriend threatened violence or self-harm if presented with a breakup. Every nine seconds in the United States a woman is assaulted or beaten. It is important to be aware not only of the facts, but to make sure women know it’s OK to come forward and seek help.

“Domestic violence isn’t a very public topic, and many times victims don’t talk to friends and family about it because they feel embarrassed or ashamed, but we want everyone to have safe environments and relationships. By informing the community about what domestic violence is, and the traumatic effects it has on victims, we are trying to ensure everyone affected takes steps to get help,” AXO sorority comments.

At tonight’s event, the sorority will do small activities such as ribbon-making, poster-making and write pledges against domestic violence, along with candles or luminaries. They also coordinate speakers to talk about their history with domestic violence, such as how they overcame it. Speakers emphasize all of the helpful and important information so women, and men, can recognize unhealthy relationships.

“We work with the Center for Women and Men to provide resources to help anyone in abusive relationships, and this year, one of our speakers will be from the shelter we work with, the Good Shepherd Shelter of Los Angeles,” says Katie Jelicich, VP Philanthropy of AXO Sorority.

This cause seemed like it needed more attention than the previous philanthropy that related to researching and curing diseases, since technology and medicine were making such great improvements already.

Chelsea Haddan is the Domestic Violence Awareness Chair and primarily in charge of the vigil.

“Our sorority wants to help others who may not be able to help themselves, and once victims have the courage and strength to leave their abusers, we want to help provide them with the resources they need to have happy, healthy lives,” she says.

This isn’t the only event the AXO is involved in, the bright women of Troy are very active in the community. They took part in “Volley Against Violence,” which is a three-day event dedicated to raising awareness and money to help fight domestic violence. All organization entry fees, sponsorships and donations benefit the Alpha Chi Omega Foundation, which in turn gives 95-percent of the donations to Sister Care of Columbia.

On their Web site it states that as a part of AXO commitment to improving the USC community, chapter members have sponsored a space on campus for many years. One Tuesday a month, chapter members come together to clean this area of campus in an effort to promote a cleaner, safer USC environment.

These women show poise, selflessness and intelligence – things that the Trojan Family in general stands for. So attention ladies at USC, although fall is coming to an end, you can always rush in the spring – don’t count AXO out.

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