They handed out bookmarks, stickers, check-lists, booklets, showed a short video and followed up with a discussion for the audience; all to raise awareness of dating violence.The Women’s Center of West Chester University held an event to inform students of the statistics regarding lethal violence in relationships, such as “according to the FBI, every 11 seconds a woman is beaten in the United States.” They offered ways to get out of a dangerous relationship, or help a friend get out of these dangerous situations.
The director of WCU’s Women’s Center, Robin Garrett, first pointed out that the staff had been giving out free stickers throughout the day that read “Hands are for helping, not hitting.” The quote helped to introduce the event’s main point of preventing not only physical abuse, but also emotional and psychological abuse against women every day. She stated that a study was done on West Chester’s campus about ten years ago that concluded that 50% of female students had experienced dating violence at some point in their lives. A pamphlet given out at the event read, “Is relationship violence a problem? One of every five female college students reports some form of dating violence.” It also states, “An abuser will try to tell you that the violence is all your fault. It is not your fault!”
The video “In Love and In Danger” began with flashing the first statistic across the screen “1 in 4 females between ages 12-21 will experience dating violence.” The video then explained that sometimes girls that enter their first serious relationship deal with the confusion and the “Hollywood ideas” of what a relationship should be like. They instantly fall in love with the idea of such an intense amount of attention and see it as necessary for the perfect relationship. The video then also highlights the “Cycle of Abuse” that begins with the “Power and Control” issue in which girls give up themselves for the abuser, experience extreme jealousy and possessiveness from their boyfriends,followed by verbal and physical threats. The victim then might let go of her friendships.
The next statistic that flashed across the screen read, “20% of homicides are women victims,” followed by, “1 in 3 women killed are killed by husbands or boyfriends.” It then pointed out social issues that tend to affect males and shape their twisted ideas of love and relationships, such as men/boys tend to confuse jealousy with love. They get confused with the macho stereotypes given to males today.
For example, “men are supposed to be tough, not sensitive.” The video then points out that parents should stress at an early age that “real men don’t hit.”
Following the video, Sandy Lewis, part of the Women’s Center staff, began a discussion with the audience asking what they noticed were early signs of abuse. Lewis pointed out some common acts that people sometimes don’t realize are abusive, such as frequent and obsessive phone calls, checking cell phone call logs, controlling wardrobes and friends, and name-calling.
The next question to the audience was, “Which is worse, physical or emotional abuse?” A student raised her hand and answered “Emotional abuse is worse because it doesn’t go away…bruises heal.”
The staff’s first highlighted point was to not give your friend an ultimatum, for example “don’t make her choose between you or him.” Never say “he doesn’t love you,” instead say “I know that you don’t deserve this.” They also pointed out to be very careful the way you go about recognizing the abuse and pointed out that places like WCU’s Women Center and Chester County’s Domestic Violence Center are 100% confidential.
From the WCU’s “A Guide for the Prevention of Dating Violence” it states “No matter what type of relationship you’re in, it’s important to seek help if you think it’s abusive!” Contact numbers are WCU Women’s Center 610-436-2122; CC Hospital ER 610-431-5150; Domestic Violence Center 610-431-1430; West Chester Police Dept. 610-696-2700.