The early days of October resonate differently in everyone. For some, it means getting to break out the Halloween decorations and costumes to celebrate this month’s holiday. For others, it brings excitement for the cooler weather. And others, like Illinois State’s speech-pathology first-year graduate student, Elizabeth Rice, it means purple and raising awareness for domestic violence. Fairchild Hall was filled with purple on October 11, 2017, as the first-year graduate students supported their classmate and friend.

mother and daughter, posing in dresses with the mother wearing a corsage

Melissa and Elizabeth Rice

Elizabeth said that she was “overwhelmed with the support of her classmates.” In the past, Elizabeth has stayed home on this day, but this year, Elizabeth came to school and found she was not alone. Bright and early, for her 8 a.m. class, she was welcomed into her lecture with a crowd of purple clothing worn by her classmates, who wanted to give their support to Elizabeth and making sure she didn’t feel alone on that day.

For Elizabeth, domestic violence awareness is close to her heart. Four years ago, on October 11, 2013, Elizabeth’s  mother, Melissa, lost her life to domestic violence in Henry, Illinois. In the events leading to and following October 11, domestic violence became something very real for Elizabeth. After losing her mother to domestic violence, she decided to become an advocate for victims of abuse.

Elizabeth and her family have made several efforts to spread awareness on this topic. They have utilized social media as a platform to educate others, as well as speaking on a panel at various community colleges, and giving speeches at the Freedom House in Princeton, Illinois, a shelter for battered women. Among these efforts to spread awareness, Elizabeth also reached out to former NFL player, Steve Smith, who is a big activist for supporting domestic violence awareness, who eventually shared Melissa Rice’s story on his website.

Elizabeth would like everyone to know that domestic violence should be taken seriously. Elizabeth notes that education of the signs of domestic can save someone’s life. She also wants people to know that domestic violence does not have a clear victim. Anyone and everyone can be affected, which sadly, is why the Rice family continues to advocate.