ASCC Psychology Club
ASCC Psychology Club advisor Mr. Derek Helsham (top, center) congratulates the club officers, including the new Miss American Samoa Suluga Taliau (bottom, left) following a successful Domestic Violence workshop that the club co-sponsored with the Social Sciences Department in late October. (Photo: J. Kneubuhl)

ASCC Social Science and Psychology Club Co-Sponsor Workshop on Domestic Violence

October 31, 2015

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

Member of the American Samoa Alliance Against Domestic and Sexual Violence (ASADSV), along with representatives from local social service agencies, took part in a workshop on domestic violence co-sponsored by the Social Science Department and Psychology Club at the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) in late October. Before a full audience of students, faculty and staff in the College’s Lecture Hall, the community advocates presented an overview of the problem of domestic violence in American Samoa, as well as a discussion of how it is being addressed and where victims can seek help.

Participating ASADSV members included Mona Uli, Outreach Community Advocacy Coordinator; Judy Matautia, Program Specialist; and Naomi Vai, Administrative Cultural & Language Coordinator. They were joined by Celestine Faumuina-Nix, M.Ed.,Branch Manager of the Child Welfare and Family Advocacy Branch, Department of Human and Social Services (DHSS); Captain Pou Supapo of the Department of Public Safety (DPS); and Fainuulelei Alailima Utu, Executive Director, American Samoa Legal Aid.

"I am so grateful for the opportunity to come to ASCC,” said Mrs. Uli. “It was exciting because we got the dialogue started. We can't deal with domestic violence until we start talking about it. Whether it's spousal abuse, partner abuse, child abuse or elder abuse, it exists everywhere. Abuse has nothing to do with love, but everything to do with power and control. Violence is a learned behavior that can be unlearned. There is counseling available for people who batter and for victims of domestic violence.”

The workshop was co-sponsored by the ASCC Social Sciences Department, collaboration with the Psychology Club, a new student organization at the College. Psychology instructor Derek Helsham, who advises the club, explained how an event like the workshop, which focused on a prevalent community issue, represents a highly valuable learning opportunity for students. “The field of Psychology deals with personal responsibility and development,” he said. “One of my target learning outcomes is that students identify and recognize the relevance being responsible, and become actively involved with the community and families. Therefore, developing an awareness of issues like domestic violence helps create more responsible young people in the community. We have a strong focus on behaviors, in this case the approaches or steps taken in dealing with violent behavior like domestic violence.”

Members of the Psychology Club helped organize the workshop, and club president Douglas Sene served as moderator. Other club officers include Brittany Tago (Vice President), Suluga Taliau (Secretary) and Yean Ji Jung (Treasurer). “Our purpose is to educate the students of ASCC about psychology and to basically boost their interest in this particular field,” shared Miss Taliau. “For those striving to major in Psychology, this club will help keep them informed and prepare them for their future endeavors as psychologists. We also wish to spark the interest of those who do not fully know what to expect from this field of study. We exist to promote Psychology and its many aspects, as well as to help increase communication and social skills.”

Miss Taliau foresees the club organizing additional workshops and other activities. “In the near future,” she said, “we plan on hosting various psychologists to talk about their work and experience. We also plan on holding field excursions as well as community service projects, and we hope to collaborate with the existing student organizations here on campus.” She said the club is open to all ASCC students, and anyone interested in joining can contact the officers or their advisor, Mr. Helsham.

While the Psychology Club refines its purpose, agenda and activity plans, the social advocacy groups in the community continue to reach out to domestic violence victims. “The DHSS is getting ready to begin their batterer's intervention program,” said Mrs. Uli of the ASADSV, “and I also am involved with Celebrate Recovery, a 12-step program for anyone struggling with an addictive or compulsive behavior - available on Saturdays at 10 a.m. at the Alliance office. Also the Alliance office has a 24-hour talk line for people who want to talk. It's confidential and you can also get referrals and information on resources at 733-4334."