NMSU student group to host domestic violence conference

Why do domestic abuse victims stay with their abusers? The answers are not easy to hear, but criminal justice students at New Mexico State University have put together a day-long conference to help the community better understand the issues.

Group of people in blue shirts sitting and standing
NMSU’s criminal justice honor society Alpha Phi Sigma members will host the fifth annual APS criminal justice conference. NMSU criminal justice students pictured (top row from left) Mariana Landaverde, Lisa Hernanadez, Ivette Ramirez, Deborah Blalock, Natasha Avila, Christina Valles and Sam Soto. Middle row from left: Criminal justice professor and Alpha Phi Sigma adviser Andrea Joseph, students Taylor Rostro, Samantha Woodward, Tatiana Magana, Tamara Coho, Erika Ochoa, Sarah Loya and Michelle Woodland. Front row from left: Students Heather Odell, Joseph Cairns and Carlos Gonzales. Service dog Bingo is seated in front of the group. (Courtesy photo by Joseph Cairns)

NMSU’s criminal justice national honor society Alpha Phi Sigma will host the fifth annual APS criminal justice conference titled “Ending domestic violence, one person at a time” from 8 a.m.- 4:30 p.m. on Friday, March 17 at Hotel Encanto in Las Cruces.

Multiple panel discussions will cover topics such as navigating the court system and psychology of the victim and a legislative update as well as people sharing their own stories — both former abusers and domestic violence survivors.

Law enforcement and social workers can earn continuing education credit, but organizers say members of the community can also benefit from participating in the discussions and workshops.

“The goal of the conference for the general public is to provide an understanding of the complexity of domestic violence and some awareness so they might be able to provide assistance to their families or their friends,” said Andrea Joseph, NMSU associate professor of criminal justice in the College of Arts and Sciences and APS faculty adviser.

“Domestic violence is real and it’s complex. There are so many reasons why people stay in an abusive relationship. It might be financial, lack of self-esteem, isolation from family and you know how powerful love is. There are a lot of reasons, but most people don’t get it.”

The conference is supported by the Southwest Regional Training Center.

The last workshop of the day is called “In Their Shoes,” in which participants get a first-hand experience of what it is like to be a victim of domestic violence navigating the complex process, which includes health, legal, financial and emotional issues.

“In this interactive workshop the participants are given profiles which tell them they were just abused and they have to report to the police or they have to face their family,” said Joseph. “There are number of different profiles and at each station, they pick up another card, which may say go home or go to the shelter. The stations also include work and even the funeral home.”

“Depending on the profile some will have kids in which case they will have to carry dolls with them. Some will have luggage to carry from station to station. To help participants have a deeper experience, they will be made up to look bruised or beaten.”

Register for the conference at https://swrtc.nmsu.edu/trainings/domesticviolence/. The fee is $60 for those seeking continuing education units and law enforcement or $70 at the door. The cost is $30 for others attending the conference without CEUs. Workshops are free for students with a valid NMSU ID. However donations are accepted. Alpha Phi Sigma is a 501c3 organization involved in numerous community service events.


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