Andrews University counseling and ministry students got a firsthand look at the face of domestic violence when two women told their stories of abuse at the hands of former husbands and a boyfriend.
The stories were part of a visit last week by representatives of the Niles-based Polly's Place women's shelter. The women were invited by instructor Alina Baltazar to speak to her class, called Family Violence through the Lifespan. Baltazar worked at Polly's Place six years ago and is familiar with the agency's program.
Polly's Place representatives came to the class for two reasons: to tell their stories and accept gifts of money and goods collected by students for the shelter over the last few months.
Students raised money with two projects. Several of the young men sponsored a "Barefoot Race" around the campus in January and raised more than $200, while many of the young women had an information booth in the student center and collected another $250 in donations.
Students also collected toiletries and other items to donate to the shelter. The university's student association will match the $250 raised in collections. Some students also have volunteered time at the shelter.
Polly's Place board Chairman Peggy Cain was the first to tell her story. She said she had been abused physically, emotionally and sexually in both of her marriages and can see how that abuse has harmed her children.
"Abuse comes in a lot of forms," Cain told the students. "Often, people don't even realize they're going through it. I wasn't aware, I didn't know that marital rape was abuse. It's also not just bruises or verbal threats."