The Alexandria Campus of Northern Virginia Community College’s Office of Student Integrity and Conduct’s Sexual Assault Peer Education Program partnered with the City of Alexandria and local dentist Dr. John Kling to officially proclaim March 4-10 as “NO MORE” Domestic Violence or Sexual Assault Week for the City of Alexandria. In an effort to end local domestic violence against women, Mayor of the City of Alexandria Allison Silberberg signed the NO MORE proclamation on March 8th at NOVA’s Alexandria Campus.
NO MORE Week, is a national week of grassroots activism that attempts to unite efforts in increasing awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence by merging the outreach of organizations, companies, community leaders and individuals from around the world. The NO MORE initiative is a campaign launched in 2013 by a coalition of direct service, prevention and advocacy organizations.
As a member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), Kling has provided pro bono dental services to help victims of domestic abuse restore their smile. Through the AACD Charitable Foundation’s Give Back a Smile (GBAS) program, volunteer dentists like Kling donate their time and skills to restoring survivors’ self-esteem, physical and emotional health.
“This is Women’s History Month and together we are standing here to say enough,” said Silberberg. “We need to let people know domestic violence and sexual assault is unacceptable. In the City of Alexandria, we have a very proactive and robust training program to sensitize individuals who need help. Any of us, regardless of our age, background, education or income can become a victim. All of us are in this fight together.”
NOVA alumna Rane Peppard shared her personal story of being a 21-year survivor of domestic abuse. After confiding with a staff member at her church and later attending a local shelter in Alexandria, she was able to develop an exit plan to leave her previous relationship. At the time, she was uncertain if she would be able to continue her studies as a NOVA student. Now, as a registered dental hygienist at Kling’s dental office, she is grateful for the support from others.
“After 6 ½ years of marriage, I left in December during finals week at NOVA with my then three year old son,” said Peppard. “When we left, I just had one more semester until I finished my dental hygiene program. I was in shock and was afraid, but I had amazing support. It was truly a miracle that I passed my finals and was able to graduate and receive my associate degree.”
During the event, a domestic abuse film documentary was shown to raise awareness along with a Q & A session. Survivors of domestic violence also shared their personal stories and ways in which the public can stay informed.
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Northern Virginia Community College is the largest institution of higher education in the Commonwealth of Virginia and one of America's largest community colleges. NOVA enrolls more than 75,000 students at its six campuses in Alexandria, Annandale, Loudoun, Manassas, Springfield and Woodbridge, and through the Extended Learning Institute. For more information about NOVA and its programs or services, call 703-323-3000 or visit the College's Web site, www.nvcc.edu.