Domestic Violence Awareness Doesn’t End In October

Bruna Vila Artigues, Assistant News Editor

Domestic violence continues to impact men and women in the United States which leads to various physical and psychological challenges.

Every nine seconds, a woman in the United States is beaten or assaulted by a current or ex-significant other, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Countless people are affected by domestic violence every year and college students are no exception.

Based on a report by the National Union of Students, one in seven respondents had experienced a serious physical or sexual assault during their time as a student.

In most cases, the assaults were carried out by someone known and intimate to the victim.

To commence the last day of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, The Ruthe Boyea Women’s Center joined the Collegewise national campaign “These Hands Don’t Hurt,” to spread awareness throughout students, faculty and staff about how serious and common domestic violence is and  how to provide support to the victims and survivors.

“These Hands Don’t Hurt really wants to empower other survivors on campus who may not be able to talk about their experience with domestic violence and let them know that they do have the support system on campus every day,” Maeve Maltese, a student worker at the Women’s Center, stated.

Elizabeth Darragjati, a student worker for The Women’s Center, explained that they are mostly focusing on the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship. Domestic violence starts with minor things, like lying or small actions, but it escalates to where “power, control and dominance comes into the relationship,” which can lead to emotional and physical abuse.

Domestic violence can leave huge physical effects on victims such as: bruises, red marks, sprained and broken bones, sexual dysfunction, shortness of breath and more.

Aside from physical side effects, victims are impacted psychologically and emotionally as well. Trauma, nightmares, depression, anxiety and low self-esteem are just a few effects of domestic violence that can follow the victim long after they have received help.

White Ribbon Australia, a movement started by men to end male violence against females, noted domestic violence occurs in repetitive patterns commonly described as  “the cycle of violence,” that describes the phases an abusive relationship typically goes through.

According to White Ribbon Australia,during the tension building phase, the tension starts increasing with some “verbal, emotional or financial abuse.” The peak of violence occurs during the “acute explosion phase,” in which the behavior may become habitual. Lastly, in the “honeymoon stage,” the perpetrator may feel ashamed and try to justify and excuse their actions. Also, both parties could be in denial about the severity of the abuse.

The Women’s Center recognizes that domestic violence is a prevalent issue on college campuses nationwide that should be acknowledged.

During the campaign’s activity, they had students paint their hands with purple paint and post them on a banner with their name, as a pledge against domestic violence to demonstrate that “these hands will never hurt them or others in the future,” Darragjati explained.

The Women’s Center wants to let students know that they have a support system and that they are never alone through this experience.

“We want to send the message that every month should be considered Domestic Violence Awareness Month, because it happens all the time to people around you and you may never even know,” Maltese said.