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WCU recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Photo by Sabrina von Ahrens.

October seems to be the time in which all seasonal activities begin: pumpkin spice everything comes back, football returns, sweaters emerge from deep within closets and the anticipation for Halloween, Thanksgiving and the holidays begin. Walking to class, you may have noticed that the breeze grazing your skin has gotten colder, giving you chills. As I was leaving class last Tuesday, I got chills too—but for a much different reason.

It is important to note that domestic violence happens every day in many dynamics other than romantic relationships.

You may have noticed there are purple ribbons accenting the quad and throughout the city of West Chester. These ribbons are not hung up in support of the Golden Rams, but are there to bring a different type of support and awareness to a seldom discussed topic: domestic violence.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. As defined by the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), domestic violence (also known as intimate partner violence) is classified as “a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.”

When one hears “domestic violence,” the idea of a husband beating his wife may come to mind, and for some reason, that is the widely accepted definition. It is important to note that domestic violence happens every day in many dynamics other than romantic relationships. Anyone can be affected by domestic violence. According to NDVH, “any race, age, sexual orientation, religion or gender can be a victim—or perpetrator—of domestic violence. It can happen to people who are married, dating or living together.” This does not mean that the husband and wife dynamic is wrong, but there are a lot of dynamics in which domestic violence takes place.

The Domestic Violence Center of Chester County (DVCCC) provides some fast facts and statistcs:

“Approximately 12 million Americans are victims of rape, physical violence, or stalking by an intimate partner annually – this equates to about 24 people per minute.”

“Intimate partner violence is very common: one in three women and one in four men are victim to some form of physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”

“Intimate partner violence is most common among women between the ages of 18 and 34.”

One in three to four people, between the ages of 18-34, at a rate of 24 people per minute? These statistics solidify that there is a more than likely chance you or someone you know may be affected by domestic violence. Domestic violence is a lot more than black eyes and broken bones. The NDVH lists some actions included in the broad spectrum of domestic violence that is not limited to any one gender that an abuser may do:

– Tells you that you can never do anything right

– Shows extreme jealousy of your friends and time spent away [from them]

– Keeps you or discourages you from seeing friends or family members

– Insults, demeans or shames you with put-downs

– Controls every penny spent in the household

– Takes your money or refuses to give you money for necessary expenses

– Looks at you or acts in ways that scares you

– Controls who you see, where you go or what you do

– Prevents you from making your own decisions

– Tells you that you are a bad parent or threatens to harm or take away your children

– Prevents you from working or attending school

– Destroys your property or threatens to hurt or kill your pets

– Intimidates you with guns, knives or other weapons

– Pressures you to have sex when you don’t want to or does things sexually you’re not comfortable with

– Pressures you to use drugs or alcohol

I talked with the Assistant Director of West Chester University’s Center for Women & Gender Equity, Tess Benser. They shed some light on what the initiative behind hanging the ribbons was. “CWGE partnered with the Domestic Violence Center of Chester County as well as the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies to hang the purple ribbons,” said Benser. “We want the ribbons to encourage having a dialogue about this all month long, to make it a part of casual conversation.”

Besner emphasized that domestic violence is indeed physical, verbal and emotional abuse, but can also be classified as belittling, gaslighting, controlling who you see and hang out with, forcing to share social media passwords, as well as pressuring you to go beyond boundaries that you have set and are comfortable with. It is important to acknowledge these red flags.

If you recognize these words to be your reality, there is hope and you can get help. Check out the resources below.

– National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233

– The Domestic Violence Center of Chester County 24-hour, free hotline 888-711-6270 or 610-431-1430

– West Chester University’s Counseling Center

– The CWGE is not a confidential resource and will have to report what is told to them, but can help (located in Lawrence Hall Room 214). Join them for their “Its on us” to stop sexual assault, kickoff event Oct. 21 in Sykes 115.

Sabrina von Ahrens is a third-year student majoring in English with a double minor in French and Linguistics. SV915865@wcupa.edu

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