Andrea Beck-Jones has many titles. She is a Ferris State graduate student in business administration, a secretary for multicultural student services and a survivor of domestic abuse.
“Being a domestic violence survivor, realizing after 14 years of going through that, it was time to make a change,” Beck-Jones said.
Beck-Jones and fellow Ferris State students embarked on an approximate 1.5 mile march, traveling through the downtown Big Rapids district, pausing to pray at various locations in order to raise public awareness of domestic abuse.
When faced with abuse, Beck-Jones initially utilized Women’s Information Services, Inc. (WISE), a non-profit designed to help victims of domestic violence. She noted at that juncture in time, she did not have the resources to fully mitigate the problem.
By attending church, praying and establishing a strong network of friends, she was able to find strength and recover.
“I was so shy, so quiet and docile, but when you find your own voice and you say ‘enough is enough,’ it’s like a light that comes on,” Beck-Jones said.
Today she speaks at different venues to help others in similar situations.
The fourth annual event was held in connection with My Sister’s Keeper, a registered student organization, and the Big Rapids chapter of WISE Saturday, April 6.
“It’s something that is rarely talked about, and when it is talked about, it’s in terms of sexual abuse,” Brittany Lofton, Ferris senior in psychology and president of My Sister’s Keeper, said.
“Domestic violence can include humiliation, emotional and mental abuse, and we should not take it lightly either.”
One in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, and many instances go unreported to authorities, according to WISE.
“I don’t feel like cases are reported because college students drink and party. I feel like when it [abuse] happens, they are scared of how other people will look at them,” a Ferris student who did not wish to be identified said.
As a 7-year-old, the anonymous student witnessed her step-father attack her mother. The abuse occurred over several years, and no criminal charges were filed against the alleged abuser, as her mother feared retaliation. The event sticks with the student more than a decade later.
WISE has helped victims of domestic abuse in the Big Rapids and Ferris State community for almost 30 years. It is estimated that the non-profit assists 280 local women a year by providing shelter, therapy and clothing free of charge.