What Thrives on Silence?

Brick columns

1911 Building columns glow from morning Fall sun.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic Violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systemic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. Domestic violence has no target demographic; it impacts people regardless of age, race, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, gender, religion, nationality or education level. On a typical day, domestic violence hotlines nationally receive almost 21,000 phone calls from people seeking support. It is estimated that 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute. These could be people in our classrooms, in our offices and in our community. Domestic violence is a completely preventable form of violence that thrives when our community is silent in addressing and preventing it from happening. Regardless of whether our silence is a result of ignorance, apathy, or careless disregard, the fact remains that members of our campus community are impacted by domestic violence every day.

Domestic Violence is one of the many gender equity and social justice topics that the NC State Women’s Center addresses throughout the year. This October, there are seven events and workshops designed to educate and engage our campus community on the impact of domestic violence and tangible ways we can support survivors and work earnestly to display our intolerance toward the perpetration of domestic violence in our community. Below is a list of events. Please check the Women’s Center website for details and information.

Silent Witness Project – The Silent Witness Project is modeled after the National Silent Witness Initiative, whose goal is to eliminate murder as a result of domestic violence by 2020. The Project at NC State uses information collected by the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence to highlight lives lost in the state of North Carolina in the traditional college-age range in the last two years. Our goal is for our large-scale plywood “witnesses” to acknowledge the violence that has already happened while educating our community so that we can prevent future violence from happening. The entire project will be on display together in the month of October and then individual silhouettes will tour around campus for the remainder of the academic year. Consider hosting a witness in your campus space.

These Hands Don’t Hurt – These Hands Don’t Hurt is an opportunity to learn about some of the impacts of domestic violence in our community and pledge to not participate in acts of relationship violence. Each participant’s unique handprint on a tarp symbolizes their commitment to preventing domestic violence in our community. Consider participating in the event and sharing via social media.

Survivor Support Space – Survivor Support Space Training is designed to prepare individuals to appropriately respond to the needs of survivors of interpersonal violence, including domestic violence. Upon completion of the training you will receive a placard indicating that you are a trained individual and support survivors. Training covers topics like behaviors that can be identified, duty to report, survivor focused response, and campus and community resources. Register for the training so that you will know what to do is a survivor chooses to report to you.

One Love – The One Love Escalation workshop is a 90-minute workshop about abusive relationships. After the film, a trained facilitator leads a meaningful discussion about relationship violence, the warning signs of an abusive relationship and how this relates to our campus community. Participate in a discussion raising awareness about the spectrum of violence and what warning signs you might recognize.

Healthy Relationships 101 – The purpose of this workshop is to provide participants with introductory information regarding healthy relationships. By better identifying a healthy relationship, the hope is we can more easily identify unhealthy relationships and their warning signs. Participate to better understand how to distinguish between healthy and unhealthy behaviors.

Tabling – The Women’s Center staff will host tabling events where we will pass out information about domestic violence awareness month. Come support and receive information about ways our community can actively combat these acts of violence.

Bystander Behavior – This workshop will help you understand the role you can play as an active bystander to prevent acts of interpersonal violence. We uncover some of the science behind why you may not have acted in the past and develop tools that can help you act in the future. Come learn some ways that you can intentionally intervene when you recognize harmful warning signs around you.

Our Wolfpack is a commitment to each other and a call to create and maintain a safe community for all of our members. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but we renew our commitments to each other every day. What will you do starting today to support survivors of domestic violence in our community?

Otis McGresham is assistant director of Interpersonal Violence Services in the NC State Women’s Center.