Produced by: Steven Bardwell
In October of 1987, domestic violence awareness month was created. Ever since, domestic violence outlets and agencies have been emerging throughout the country, providing a place for survivors to gain control of their situations.
At the University of Illinois, the campus is coming together as a whole to provide students with the necessary outlets to escape their hostile environments. Not only is the University providing these outlets, but it has made the pledge to stand behind the victims and respect whichever direction they decide to go.
What is Domestic Violence?
A pattern of behavior which involves violence or other abuse by one person against another in a domestic context, such as in marriage or mutual relationship. Domestic Violence can take many shapes and forms including, but not limited to physical, emotional, verbal, economic and sexual abuse.
It is assumed that most victims of domestic abuse are female, but with the growing number of male reporters, it is safe to say that no one is excluded from violence within the home.
Though a growing number of victims are beginning to report these violent actions, it is still unknown how many of people out there are still suffering and unwilling to come forward and speak out against their significant other.
For whatever reason, whether it be the victim feels it is their fault, they do not want to get their partner in trouble, they do not have the time or money to seek legal help. Whatever it may be, these silent victims need ways to hear about their options and to let them know that they have support in which ever path to decide to go.
At the University of Illinois, programs such as FYCARE, First Year Campus Acquaintance Rape Education, teach students the warning signs of violence in a relationship through informational videos depicting typical college campus situations. These kinds of programs help to instill awareness within the student body as soon as they step foot on campus.
Domestic Violence Awareness month is one of the largest awareness campaigns on campus, running all throughout the month of October. Offices such as the Women’s Resource Center, Counseling Center, Office of the dean of students and many student organizations sponsor events throughout the month to help bring awareness to the campus of the dangers of domestic violence and the options students have to escape that situation.
In September of 2014, right before the beginning of awareness month, President Barack Obama launched the “It’s On Us” intiative, which is an awareness campaign to end domestic and sexual assault on college campuses. The Big Ten Athletic Conference has joined the campaign and University of Illinois athletes came together to spread the message.
Not only is the campus as a whole stepping up to spread the word of domestic violence, but offices such as the Women’s Resource Center are going hand-in-hand with students to help them through any decision they decide to make.
Rachel Storm of the University Women’s Resource Center says, “We can actually go with them to file a report, go with them to sit with them during a hearing. We can wait with them outside the McKinley Health Center, there’s different things we can do as advocates.”
The Women’s Resource Center is only one of the many offices and outlets the University provides for victims to escape their hostile environment.
What to do and Where to go?
For students, the most efficient and immediate way of taking care of a domestic violence situation is always to call the local police, whether that be the campus or city police department. Captain Roy Acree of the UIUC campus police says to call right away before things continue. “Just call 911 and a police officer will respond or come to the police department because if there significant other has struck them or pushed them or whatever it may be, in most cases it’s not going to get any better.”
There are steps that you as a friend or family member can take to prevent the situation from escalating and to save your loved one from future physical and emotional damage.
- Be direct: Ask someone who looks like they may need help if they’re okay
- Don’t just be a bystander: If you see something, intervene.
- Recognize potential danger: Someone who talks about planning to target another person
- NEVER BLAME A VICTIM
Rachel Storm of the Women’s Resource Center says, “The magic words are, I believe you, It’s not your fault and I’m willing to help you, those are the most important.” If you can truthfully say this to someone and let them know that they are not alone, that is the first step in allowing themselves to break away from the abuse.
Next, is helping to explain ones options and allowing them to make their own decisions going forward gives power back to those who have suffered.
These options include the local police department to file a report on the aggressor, but sometimes the victim feels that their aggressor does not deserve punishment. So in that case, counseling centers and emergency housing are available to remove that person from the situation as well allowing them to talk to someone in a confidential space.
Help is all around you, but for the few that are unable to see outside the walls of their abusive home, they need help.
Courage Connection, a Champaign, Illinois based supportive services and housing clinic has helped almost 700 people in 2014 with almost one thousand hotlines calls answered for immediate response. These types of places, including SafePlace on campus, provide escapes for those with no where to go in hopes of safety.
Domestic Violence is a topic that many people feel uncomfortable about, but how can we ever better the situation if people are afraid to speak up? It is time to make the pledge to end domestic violence and to stand up for not only yourself but for others that you know who are suffering. Nobody deserves to get abused by someone who is supposed to be a loved one, so speak up and let them know of their options before it is too late.
Located here is my audio package: Changing to End the Violence Discussing the rising awareness and seriousness of Domestic Violence on the campus of Illinois.
Next is my final and complete package: No More: You Have the Power. Including, where to go and how to handle the situation of being a victim on a college campus.