UNF student shares their story of domestic abuse

Emily Regalado and Carter Mudgett

​Walking around UNF’s campus, large purple ribbons adorn the trunks of trees that resemble those typically found atop birthday presents. The purpose they serve is not just to decorate UNF’s landscape, but to bring awareness to the heart-clenching truth of domestic violence and remind victims they are not alone. Their pain and stories are being silently recognized by the simple symbol of colored ribbon, brought to the campus by UNF’s Alpha Chi Omega sorority. 

Twin purple bows sit facing the UNF Student Union in support of Domestic Violence Month. (Carter Mudgett)

Together with the Women’s Center at UNF, Alpha Chi Omega has represented their sorority’s philanthropy by raising domestic violence awareness in Oct. with ‘Take Back the Night’ and a themed Market Day. Students who had the opportunity to experience these events witnessed a community that is fostered in helping victims feel safe and making others aware of the nature of domestic violence. 

A UNF student, who asked to be named Marie because of the sensitivity of this topic, shared their story. “It can happen to anyone by anyone,” she began.

Marie was just a minor when the horrible events transpired while her abuser was a young adult. The abuser lived with her and her family because of the foster care system. He was accepted as one of their own, appearing in family photos, and creating bonds with the family. 

Behind closed doors, the boyfriend physically and emotionally abused Marie beyond measures humanly acceptable. She couldn’t confide in her parents because of the depth of the situation and her description of her love for him. Marie described the feeling as though she was in love, but not grasping the concept of real love, inadvertently developing this need to protect her abuser.

Purple bow symbolizing support for Domestic Violence Awareness Month tied to a tree trunk in front of the UNF Student Union. (Carter Mudgett)

Over the course of a year of increasingly worsening abuse Marie realized that this was not possible. She could not protect someone from themselves, the abuser needed to find that change for themselves. Staying with her then-boyfriend wasn’t going to change his toxic behaviors, a concept she believed right up until the day he was arrested. 

Marie cautions others to beware of red flags and not to try to change their colors; the possessiveness, manipulation, accusatory statements, yelling, and need for dominating control cannot be overlooked. They are not simply a response to trauma or outburst of anger. In reality, she says that it is abuse and in real cases, it is a gateway to more violent, physical abuse.

“Don’t let them convince you into thinking nobody would believe you,” she warned. 

Marie says she was gaslighted into believing she deserved to be beaten down and broken by her abuser, that it was all her fault and no one could believe they were capable of such horrifying acts. In Marie’s case, police were called and handled the situation legally. The abuser was wrong and she was believed. 

For others, Marie advises they talk with someone trusted, both physically and emotionally separate themselves from the abuser, as well as distance themselves from people associated with the abuser. 

If you or someone you know is currently affected by domestic abuse, please visit here for Victim Advocacy Resources. UNF offers a 24-hour crisis helpline at (904) 620-1010. The campus Counseling Center is located in Building 2, Suite 2300, and available for calls at (904) 620-1491. 


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