October Marks National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October 10, 2014

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Alaina Segura

Early last month, the topic of domestic violence was front and center in the media, as footage was released to the press of Ray Rice, running back for the Baltimore Ravens, hitting his fiancée, and now wife, Janay Palmer, unconscious.   It was only after TMZ released the full video of Rice brutally assaulting his fiancée that he was suspended from the NFL indefinitely.  This incident sparked controversy not only in the media world of sports, but in all media outlets.

With 1 in 4 women experiencing domestic violence in their lifetime, this form of gender-based violence is all too common in our nation – not just among celebrities. Furthermore, the cycle of violence that this creates is undeniable; men who as children witnessed their parents’ domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own wives, than sons of nonviolent parents.

At U.Va., the Maxine Platzer Lynn Women’s Center, in conjunction with the Sexual Violence Prevention Coalition and Sigma Psi Zeta Sorority, has planned a myriad of events throughout the month of October, which was deemed the National Domestic Violence Awareness Month by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 1987.  The creation of this month evolved from the first Day of Unity, which occurred in 1981, and strived to connect advocates against domestic violence across the


One of these events includes an NFL panel discussion on Oct. 21, specifically highlighting the media coverage regarding Rice and Palmer. Click here to see the full calendar of events.

This year, the Women’s Center is collaborating with Sigma Psi Zeta, whose philanthropy is to combat domestic violence.

“The Women's Center is a strong presence on Grounds and a great resource to have,” said sorority president, Yujin Cho.  “Because our goals as organizations align, it seemed natural to partner up and promote the cause together.”

The sorority is sponsoring several events, including a screening of the film “Eden” on Oct. 7, which tells the story of a girl forced into human trafficking. They are also offering a self-defense workshop on Oct. 22, taught by instructors from Charlottesville Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.

One of the most hard-hitting and important events scheduled for this month is a weeklong series of events known as Red Flag Week, which takes place Oct. 26- 31.  On Oct.  28 and 30, those who visit the Lawn will have an opportunity to view the U.Va. Clothesline Project, in which T-shirts, decorated by survivors of intimate partner violence, are displayed, allowing survivors to anonymously tell their stories and express their feelings.  There will also be an opportunity to sign the #hoosgotyourback pledge, plant a red flag, and have free hot drinks with sleeves printed with messages about healthy relationships.

On Oct. 29 the Red Flag Week Panel discussion, “A Survivor’s Guide to Relationship Violence”, will include stories from survivors of intimate partner violence.

“Personally, I am really looking forward to this event,” says Stephanie Asante, an intern for the Gender Violence and Social Change program in the U.Va. Women’s Center. “Hearing other peoples stories is not only inspiring but allows anyone going through any form of intimate partner violence to know that, they too, can make it.”

Asante continues, explaining the importance of spreading awareness about domestic violence.

“Speaking up about this issue is extremely important because it helps people gain an understanding which can often garner support and consequently encourage change,” she said. “It also helps dispel myths and instead provides facts about intimate partner violence.”

Most importantly, domestic violence is not an issue that should only be discussed when public figures, such as NFL players and R&B singers, are offenders of such crimes.  Nor should domestic violence be an issue that is only discussed during October and left forgotten the other 11 months of the year.

With a woman being assaulted or beaten every nine seconds in the United States, domestic violence is an issue that we should strive each day to end.  Spreading awareness and educating the public is the first step in a long journey of stopping this too common, too-often ignored, social vice.  

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