Southern Miss’ Kappa Sigma chapter of Alpha Chi Omega sorority hosted its annual Red Carnation Gala to raise money in support of the Domestic Abuse Family Shelter in Hattiesburg on March 22.
Alpha Chi Omega was founded on Oct. 15, 1885 at the DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind. The sorority was founded within the school of music with an appreciation for the fine arts. During the 1992 convention, delegates of the sorority voted to adopt the Support of Victims of Domestic Violence as a national altruistic project.
According to the chapter’s website, “Grants go to various agencies across the nation providing services to victims as well as to provide development and implementation of educational programs for members.”
The Red Carnation Gala benefitted the Domestic Abuse Family Shelter of South Mississippi. The gala was host to a fashion show with outfits from local boutiques around the Hattiesburg area and was followed by cocktail hour and a silent auction.
Junior English major Marybeth Charnock is the president of the Alpha Chi Omega sorority on campus and said the chapter was “blown away.”
“This has been our best show out and support we’ve had,” Charnock said. “I’m excited to see the support the community has for the Domestic Abuse shelter.”
Attendees were given the opportunity to hear stories from domestic abuse victims. The names of these victims remained anonymous; however, one Southern Miss student shared her story with her name attached.
Senior psychology major Emily Bouzemann is a member of the Eta Zeta chapter of Alpha Delta Pi. She is a survivor and a fighter and uses her experience to support other victims of domestic violence.
“It was the only life I knew. Everything seemed normal at the beginning, but when we came to USM he started making me record my weight every day,” Bouzemann said. “When that wasn’t enough for him, he downloaded an app to keep track of the food I ate. The first time he hit me, he held me and told me how sorry he was. I believed him because I didn’t know any different. When I realized how unhealthy our relationship was, I ended it with him. That time he put me in the hospital. I had broken ribs, a broken ankle and a broken collar bone,” Bouzemann said.
Charnock called Bouzemann brave. “What she went through, and where she is now is so inspiring; I am so proud of her,” Charnock said.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 10 million men and women are physically abused by an intimate partner over the course of one year. On a typical day, more than 200,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide.
“It was like starting a new life, after him. I had to find out who I am and figure out how to live a life without him in it,” Bouzemann said.
Those in abusive relationships can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for Mississippi at 601-981-9196.