Domestic Violence Awareness Month sheds light on harrowing, common issue

Representatives from SAFEHOME tied purple ribbons to trees across campus, each one representing one of the 194 victims they help in an average week. Tied to the ribbons were tags showing domestic violence statistics and a hotline domestic violence victims may call. Photo by Kenna Swihart, The Campus Ledger

Kim Harms

News Editor

The college hosted three events to spread awareness of domestic violence and the resources available to its victims. These events were held in honor of October being Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Anne Turney, manager of Student Life, said spreading domestic violence awareness is especially important for those affected by domestic violence. Making individuals aware of the resources available to them is a large part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“I think getting the resources to the right people is always important,” Turney said. “Domestic violence is such an intimate experience for individuals and is a lot of times threatening their lives. Knowing there are shelters in our community that will take in an entire family is important. If an individual’s abuser is part of their household and they need a place to take their children, there are resources for them.”

At the beginning of the month, the college hosted Consent in the CoLab. The Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) and SAFEHOME* held activities and workshop presentations to bring awareness to the real meaning of consent.

“Consent in the CoLab started during our planning phase and it was how can we get information to people in a different way and talk about topics that maybe are not traditional,” Brittany Martin, Student Life Coordinator, said. “It’s hard to think of new ways to present the same information. Consent in the CoLab was an [event] where we had almost a fair. People could come in and get a different spin on information they maybe had not thought about in that new way before.”

Throughout this month, students may have noticed purple ribbons tied around the trees on campus. The ribbons were a part of a campaign hosted by SAFEHOME where each ribbon represents an individual helped by the organization.

“Originally, their goal was to do 775 purple ribbons, but I don’t think we have quite that many trees on campus,” Turney said. “That 775 number represents the amount of domestic violence victims they see each month. I’m not sure exactly how many ribbons we actually have, but the next number was 194 ribbons which would represent how many people they see in one week. For us, that was just a visual representation to this community that it’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month and each ribbon represents a certain amount of individuals who are seeking help.”

Attached to the ribbons were small cards with the phone number for SAFEHOME and a statistic about domestic violence. Martin said attaching the cards to the ribbons was a great way to reach out to students with important information.

“When you’re walking around campus and you see purple ribbons tied to the trees, it captivates you,” Martin said. “You’re curious about the tag attached to the ribbon, so you walk up to the tree and then you see that information. I think that’s excellent given the circumstances around domestic violence and why someone might not seek help. Having something dangling there,  they now know, okay I can call this group and they can assist me.”

The Clothesline Project was the final event hosted by the college for domestic violence awareness. The project is celebrated nationwide and allows an opportunity for those affected by domestic violence to share their stories. Individuals are encouraged to express their emotions through decorating a t-shirt.

“The Clothesline Project is a visual representation of individuals sharing their stories, whether that’s a story of personal survival of domestic violence or in remembrance of someone,” Turney said. “I felt [the project] was really successful, we had 14 shirts for people to decorate and all of them were decorated. I feel it was another visual of what’s happening in our community.”

Turney said having conversations and using social media are ways to continue spreading awareness of domestic violence throughout the year.

“I think the first way is just having conversations about it,” Turney said. “You see an event happening on campus, then invite your friends and say ‘Hey, let’s go check this out.’. A lot of the events we do are stop-by, which we do on purpose so students will come, get the information and continue on to class. If we continue to push these conversations to the side then we will continue to push the issue to the side.”

Participation in the events held on campus is an easy way for students and other individuals on campus to bring awareness. Martin said when more people participate, then more conversations will be started.

“When you’re walking around on campus and you see some event going on or you see someone doing a table event in the cafeteria saying wear a ribbon or a pin for this, you can do those things because they are conversation starters,” Martin said. “That’s why we do those things. Whatever donations you can give really benefit [community] organizations. If you can give to a MOCSA, SAFEHOME or county resource that’s definitely helpful.”

Individuals who are or know someone affected by domestic violence may reach out to the variety of resources available both on and off campus. The MOCSA crisis line is available 24 hours, seven days a week as well as the RAINN* National Sexual Assault Hotline. The JCCC Police Department and the counseling center are available as well.

“Talking to a counselor is not going be reported versus going to the police where it will be reported and investigated, that’s something important for survivors to know,” Turney said. “MOCSA also has a 24-hour crisis line available for an individual to call anytime, whether they just experienced an assault or experienced one five years ago and are still feeling the impact. If an individual would like to report something that happened on campus then we have Title IX coordinators who will investigate more on the student conduct side.”

To contact MOCSA’s crisis line, call (913) 642-0233 or call 1-800-656-4673 for RAINN’s national hotline. If immediate assistance is needed, call 911. More information about MOCSA can be found on their website.

*SAFEHOME is the name of the organization, capitalized.

*RAINN is the name of the organization, capitalized.


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