Women’s Center Spreads Education For National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Womens+Center+Spreads+Education+For+National+Domestic+Violence+Awareness+Month

Photo courtesy of Megan Long/Flickr

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month and Loyola’s Women’s Center is focusing its efforts on increasing awareness around this important topic. Melissa Lees, the sexual violence prevention, education and response coordinator, defines domestic violence as, “Any form of physical, verbal, or emotional abuse between two people in an domestic or dating relationship”.  

The definition is very broad because, according to Lees, domestic violence can take on many forms. “It’s not always black eyes”,  said Lees, abuse can include any form of coercion or threat of force. Abusers often control bank accounts or a victim’s access to money, access to transportation or tracking their car to monitor where they go, and even restrict their access to medication or isolate them from friends and family.

Often people believe that domestic violence could never happen to them, but Lees says there is no “typical victim.” Domestic violence does not discriminate, it affects people of all races, religions, and economic backgrounds, and the statistics support this. According to Breackthecycle.org, in a college dating and violence abuse poll, 43% of dating college women reported experiencing violent or abusive dating behavior. This included physical, verbal, sexual, technological, or controlling abuse.

With domestic violence affecting so many people, it is important to be aware of the warning signs. Lee says that the best thing you can do if you ever feel unsafe in a relationship is to follow your instincts. “If you ever feel unsafe, listen to that,” says Lee. As a witness, if you notice your friend is suddenly very withdrawn and isolated after starting a relationship the best thing you can do is say something. Lees says that most of the victims she has worked with wish a friend had spoken up.

There are many resources that are available for victims of domestic violence and people who want to help. On campus, the Women’s Center and the Counseling Center are dedicated to helping all students who experience dating violence. The Women’s Center can provide confidential, individual advocacy for students. Off-campus, there is a victim advocacy center called TurnAround Inc. located on North Charles Street. Students can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, a 24/7 free and confidential service at 1-800-799-7233.

While it can be challenging to address this sensitive topic, the Women’s Center is continuing to work toward spreading awareness about abuse, student’s rights and the actions they can take against domestic violence. The center just finished the Red Flag Campaign on campus, which  involved a line of red flags on display in the Student Center and across the Charles Street bridge with words such as jealousy, anger, domination, and isolation written on them to bring attention to behaviors that are signs of abuse.

Next the Women’s Center will be focusing on bringing national campaigns to campus such as “It’s On Us,” and “No More” for students to be involved. The more awareness brought to this issue, the more the Loyola community can be informed of the dangers and warning signs of abusive relationships. The National Network to End Domestic Violence summarized the importance of this best, “domestic violence thrives when we are silent; but if we take a stand and work together, we can end domestic violence.”