October brings attention to domestic violence issues

By Camille Murray

The Women’s Resource Center is sponsoring several events throughout October in light of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The center’s list of scheduled events include spoken word performances, discussions, lectures and workshops covering topics like domestic violence prevention and forming healthy relationships. One of the main upcoming events is a candlelight vigil to be held on Oct. 23 in honor of those who have been affected.

“The truth of the matter is that mostly everyone has some relationship to domestic violence, whether it’s a family member, themselves or a friend or loved one,” said Rachel Storm, assistant director of the Women’s Resources Center.

Capt. Roy Acree of the University Police Department said that he believes domestic violence is a huge issue on campus. The University police began recording and publishing statistics related to domestic and dating violence for the first time this year. However, many incidents still go unrecorded.

“The vast majority of domestic violence issues are never reported here on campus,” Acree explained.

He stated the reason for the lack of incident reporting is because oftentimes the victim blames his or herself, or doesn’t want to get their abuser in trouble. He added that males can also be victims of domestic violence but are less likely to come out and admit it.

Changes made to the Clery Act in 2014 required college campuses to start reporting statistics on stalking, domestic violence and dating violence as part of their annual security report.

The Women’s Resources Center hopes to use Domestic Violence Awareness Month as a way to get people familiar with the warning signs of abusive relationships, highlight resources that are available in the community, explain how to form healthy relationships and show how race and gender play a role in domestic violence. 

Storm emphasized the importance of giving support and taking action.

“We can have the best papers out there and the best theories out there, but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t put it to practice,” said Adrienne Spires, volunteer and outreach specialist for Rape Advocacy, Counseling & Education Services, and featured speaker at one of this month’s events.

Spires spoke on the problems of domestic abuse and sexual violence, discussing the role that race plays in such conflicts both historically and currently, at an event Friday titled “Race, Gender, and the Fight to End Sexual and Structural Violence.” 

“The only thing I can say is that we have to continue to fight. We have to continue to foster relationships. We have to continue to be welcoming to other people who are fighting for the same goals, treatment, and justice, and we have to be collective together,” she said during the presentation.

Storm said that victims of domestic violence have many local resources. The Women’s Resources Center offers crisis intervention, advocacy work, counseling, women’s support groups and safe house assignments — all of which are confidential services. Victims can also get help by contacting local organizations, such as Courage Connection and Rape Advocacy, Counseling & Education Services, both of which have crisis hotlines. 

Those who want to help with the issue of domestic violence can start by demonstrating support, showing interest in the relationships of loved ones and taking note of what it means to be in a healthy relationship, Storm said. Students are also encouraged to wear purple, the color recognized in connection with domestic violence awareness. The Women’s Resources Center will be giving out purple ribbons throughout the month. 

Acree said the main thing students can do to help prevent domestic violence is to speak out.

“Don’t be afraid to step up,” he said. “If you’re a victim, please report it. If you’re someone who’s a witness, call the police.”

Camille can be reached at [email protected]