Interpersonal violence has been haunting the news headlines, and the desperately needed conversation surrounding victimization is not going away. Emory Lazenby (BA ’12) has dedicated her life to helping women recognize danger signs and learn the tools to escape threatening situations.
Lazenby was recently named TU’s Domestic Violence Intervention Services survivor advocate. “I work for DVIS, but I will have an office on the TU campus,” Lazenby explained. “I can work with students, staff and faculty who are victims of interpersonal violence.”
Lazenby discovered her heart for women’s issues while on the TU women’s rowing team and interning at DaySpring Villa, a women and children’s shelter in Sand Springs, Oklahoma. “I realized this could be happening to my family, my friends and my teammates. It sparked a passion in me to work on women’s issues specifically,” she said.
After taking a sociology class on a whim, Lazenby recognized it was a study that lends itself to helping people. “One of the best things I pulled from the sociology program is the ability to see people for who they are and to not judge,” she said. “The culture you grow up in helps you figure out how you want to behave and who you want to be.”
After graduating from TU, Lazenby was formally hired by DaySpring Villa as a case manager. She served victims of domestic violence, human sex trafficking, stalking and sexual assault. From job placement to medical care, the shelter not only served as safe housing but also as a stable foundation for success. “Most of these women are coming out of a crisis situation and may not have family or supports systems. We would work with them on building a support system,” Lazenby explained. Sometimes the shelter housed women with six to eight children, and mental health services were offered in-house for the families.
Lazenby is eager to educate college students on the definition of interpersonal violence. “Instead of this being a stranger physically assaulting you, this is someone you know and care about,” she said. “It’s not the same dynamic as someone getting in a bar fight.”
College students from ages 18 to 24 are especially susceptible to violence. The changing and maturing happening in a college community can be a breeding ground for issues around domestic violence. “You have people who may have never had a conversation about consent. We don’t know if all of our students coming in having had healthy relationships modeled for them,” she added.
Lazenby want the process of reporting violence to be in hand of the victim. “We know that it’s challenging for a victim to say, ‘this happened to me,’ because there is a lot of blame that goes with that. There is support out there,” she assured.
She warns TU students to look for signs of a problematic relationships. Isolation is a key indicator. “If you have a friend in a new relationship, it’s normal to insulate that and be with the person you love. But if that behavior continues and suddenly you haven’t heard from that friend in three weeks, that is something to look for,” Lazenby said.
She also strongly emphasizes that the victim is not to at fault. “It doesn’t matter what you were wearing. It doesn’t matter if you were drinking. None of those reasons is a reason to be victimized,” she said.