October 1st marks the beginning of Domestic Violence Awareness month. One in four women and one in seven men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner throughout their lifetime. On average, roughly twenty people per minute are physically abused by their significant other in the United States, this adds up to nearly ten million women and men that fall victim to domestic violence every year.
Domestic and sexual violence occur in every community and on every college campus despite differences in economic, social and racial demographics. Such issues can only be addressed if everyone in the community gets involved. Here are a few things to get you inspired and take action!
1. Participate in Purple Thursday
Every year advocates, survivors and supporters around the United States wear purple on the 4th Thursday of October to honor victims of domestic violence. This year Purple Thursday falls on October 25th. If you are involved in an on-campus organization that is willing to show support for domestic violence survivors and their families, be sure to post a picture on your social media of all members wearing purple with hashtags such as #purplethursday and #DVAM.
Many people don't realize that domestic and sexual violence is present on a lot of college campuses across the nation. First-year students are most at risk for sexual assault and sexual violence. "They are younger, they're less experienced. They probably have less experience with alcohol, they want to be accepted," said David Lisak, a prominent sexual assault researcher, in a 2010 interview with National Public Radio.
First-time serious relationship students often find themselves feeling vulnerable and unsure who to reach out to when encountering signs of relationship abuse. Don't forget to include the National Domestic Violence Hotline in your social media post when posting for Purple Thursday: (1-800-799-7233)
2. Volunteer at a Domestic Violence Shelter
Domestic Violence is one of the most prominent causes of female and youth homelessness across the nation. Survivors of domestic and sexual violence often turn to homeless service programs once they have fled the sight of abuse. The immediate need of a domestic violence survivor is safety, many survivors stay in an emergency shelter or transitional housing before regaining their own independent residence. Short and long-term rental assistance can be used to help survivors move out of local shelters (National Alliance to End Homelessness).
Locate a nearby homeless shelter and reach out to host a volunteer event. If you don't have the time to commute to a local shelter, find the shelter's website and donate any spare change that you may have! A small donation of $5-10 can make a great difference!
3. Familiarize yourself with Title IX protections
Students don't always realize the fact that Title IX protection rights apply to relationship abuse as well as sexual assault. "Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 is a federal civil rights law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any education program or activity that receives federal funding. Under Title IX, discrimination on the basis of sex can include sexual harassment, relationship abuse, rape, and sexual assault."
Title IX under the Trump Administration:
On September 7th, 2017 Betsy DeVos announced plans to withdraw Title IX rights for college students across the country. However, Title IX remains a federal law to this day—all students are defended under Title IX protection rights as well as the Clery Act.
If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual violence your college must thoroughly investigate and promptly respond to your complaint. The university at which you are studying must provide you the accommodations such as counseling as well as the opportunity to be accompanied by an advisor of your choice to a disciplinary hearing. Lastly, your college must provide violence prevention training to students if requested upon. Know your rights!
4. Hold those around you accountable!
All in all, none of the attempts listed above will matter unless we start holding abusers accountable for their actions! Learn how to recognize violent behavior, ignoring red flags is often how many people get away with their abuse. Look for signs of abuse not only in your peers but people of all age, race, and color!
Domestic violence can come in various shapes; learn to understand that emotional and verbal abuse can be just as crushing as physical abuse. If someone around you trivializes the topic of domestic violence, openly acknowledge it and hold them accountable for their words and actions!