By Jantomi Hall
Danny Bolden uses the death of his stepdaughter, Latasha Norman, to warn college students and young adults about the signs of abusive relationships.
“Who is better to talk about it other than the person who’s been through it?” Bolden said.
In the 14 years since Norman’s death, her family has retold her story to get other people out of abusive relationships. They also created an event which takes place during National Domestic Violence Month, the Latasha Norman Fun Run/Walk, to raise awareness. Jackson State created the Latasha Norman Center for Counseling Services to honor her and help students with problems such as abusive relationships.
Norman was a 20-year-old junior studying accounting at the university when she was stabbed to death in 2007. Authorities said they found Norman’s body decomposed in a wooded area in North Jackson. In 2014, ex-boyfriend Stanley Cole pleaded guilty in Hinds County Circuit Court and was sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Paying attention to signs, red flags of domestic violence and abusive relationships
The signs had been there. According to police, in the weeks prior to Norman’s death, Cole had been charged with assault after a violent encounter with Norman.
Norman, from Greenville, spent time outside of class writing for the Blue and White Flash, Jackson State’s student newspaper. According to her family, Norman was a Christian with a beautiful personality.
Shanice White, a counselor at The Latasha Norman Center, said 15% of Jackson State students receive counseling specifically for abusive relationships.
“What we are finding is that students who may primarily request services for mental health concerns eventually disclose current or past experiences with domestic violence,” she said. “Many students are not aware that they are or have experienced domestic violence.”
Statistics reported by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence showed that 43% of women in college experienced abusive behaviors from their significant other. Women between the ages of 16 and 24 experienced more dating violence than any other age group.
The proceeds of the Fun Run/Walk go toward supplies and resources for the Latasha Norman Center. This year, the university raised approximately $1,000. At least $2,000 is needed annually to have a fully-staffed counseling center, along with expenses that go toward guest speakers and training. In 2020, the fun run/walk was virtual due to COVID-19. According to Norman’s family, participants still had the option of walking, but the event included a roundtable discussion about continuing to vocalize against abusive relationships. Alcorn State University and Mississippi Valley State University were also part of the virtual walk.
More domestic violence awareness needed
Bolden said he Norman’s mother, Patricia Bolden, spend time at schools, churches and other organizations sharing their daughter’s story while warning young people about the red flags of an unhealthy relationship.
Bolden recounts once listening to a woman share her story about being in an abusive relationship for 25 years.
“She said that two days before she married him, he took her to a hotel and raped her,” Bolden said. “She still married him and he abused her for 25 years, so that was a red flag that she ignored.”
According to PsychCentral.com, people in violent relationships ignore red flags because they may appear as minor.
Other reasons that warning signs are ignored are:
- Moving too fast in a relationship
Contact reporter Jantomi Hall at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on Mississippi Clarion Ledger: Latasha Norman’s domestic violence death spurs family, JSU to action