All throughout October, there will be several events on campus for Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which started back in 1987. Domestic Violence Awareness Month developed from the Day of Unity Event in October of 1981 held by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence that expanded to a full week and eventually an entire month of events.
The original Day of Unity event was designed to connect advocates against domestic violence from across the nation and it is now held on the first Monday of October every year to kick off Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Many students and faculty members on campus have strong feelings about these issues.
“Domestic Violence disproportionately affects women and children (in a parallel life, I work as a child advocate with the Gratiot County family court),” said Prathim-Maya Dora-Laskey, professor of English and Women’s & Gender Studies as well as faculty advisor to the MacCurdy House.
“It places a huge burden of fear, pain, guilt and a host of other negative experiences on the individual, which adds up to a huge social, national and global burden. It takes place in families of every class and race, and frequently it is hidden or minimized because women and children have fewer resources,” said Dora-Laskey.
Research also shows that this issue is prevalent on college campuses. “Recent studies have shown that about 1 in 5 college students experience abuse at the hands of a current partner, and 1 in 3 college students have experienced abuse by a former partner (Sinozich, et al., 2014). I think we can all agree that’s far too many,” said Kevin Carmody, the Civil Rights/Title IX Coordinator.
In attempt to remedy this issue, various groups on campus such as KI, the MacCurdy House, Counseling and Wellness and others are hosting events to spread awareness and provide support to victims/ survivors. The Counseling and Wellness Center began the Clothesline Project on Thursday, Oct. 4, which has been displayed on campus every year since 1995. The project is made of t-shirts created by survivors of domestic violence or in honor of someone else who has experienced it.
The purpose is to provide healing for survivors, educate the public and provide solutions to prevent violence in the future, according to Anne Lambrecht and the Counseling and Wellness Center staff. Campus is also participating in the Purple Tie Campaign. “Each Friday through October, we are encouraging people to wear purple in support of survivors of intimate partner violence (IPV), and to take a stand as a community to say that these behaviors are antithetical to our values,” said Carmody.
For those who do not own a purple tie, they are available for free at the Counseling and Wellness Center, the Wilcox Medical Center or in Carmody’s office in Tyler Van Dusen.
Faculty also emphasized that Domestic Violence Awareness Month is not only for women. “IPV has long been seen as a ‘women’s issue,’ which ignores that members of any gender may be impacted by IPV,” said Carmody.
“As men, I feel it’s incredibly important that we add our voice to the work that women have long been doing on this issue, and to recognize that IPV is most often committed by men. That makes it incredibly important that men step up and add our voices in this issue,” said Carmody.
However, for the first time in several years Slut Walk, a protest created to promote gender equality and to end rape culture and victim blaming, will not take place on campus this year.
“We decided to transition to Take Back the Night because last year the residents faced a lot of backlash from students and the administration due to provocative posters and marchers having the idea to pound on fraternity doors,” said Eryn Corinth (‘21), a member of KI and the MacCurdy House.
According to Corinth, the name Take Back the Night comes from the 60’s and 70’s where women didn’t feel safe walking down streets alone at night. “The ideas of them are both the same, but we want to do Take Back the Night because it’s about the same issues but it just has a different name so it won’t have the same backlash [as Slut Walk],” said Corinth.
“Another reason we want to do Take Back the Night is to draw attention to the lack of lighting on Alma College’s campus, and how even here we don’t always feel safe walking home at night. We’ll also try to talk to all of the sororities and fraternities on campus to get them to come to it,”she said. Take Back the Night will occur on Nov. 2 at 7 p.m.