Tuesday October 24, 2017

A Journey of Healing

By Elisabeth Spector

It’s October, which means it is officially the season of all things pumpkin spice and plaid, but it also means it's Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence, or intimate partner violence, is one of the most widespread forms of violence but one of the least talked about ones. According to the CDC, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men experience “severe physical violence” at the hands of an intimate partner at some point in their lifetime. This severe physical violence doesn’t include the emotional, mental, financial, verbal, and other types of abuse that may not be physical but are certainly just as harmful. Intimate partner violence can be incredibly difficult to understand because of the number of complex factors that play into someone staying in an unhealthy, or even abusive, relationship. As an outsider, it can be easy to look at an abusive relationship and ask, “Why didn’t they just leave?” or “Why didn’t they ask for help?” But we have to remember that when any of us start a relationship, we never imagine that this person would hurt us. This is the person who we are supposed to trust completely and love fully. Nobody starts a relationship thinking it is going to be a bad one.

When we begin to look at the ways in which perpetrators of intimate partner violence get their partners to stay, it becomes clear why they don’t just leave or ask for help. They isolate them from their support systems. They blame them for things that aren’t their fault and make them feel guilty for things they shouldn’t feel guilt about. They manipulate or coerce them into doing things they otherwise wouldn’t want to do. They may control their finances. All of this in the name of “love.” 

But love shouldn’t hurt. If you think you or someone you know may be involved in intimate partner violence, there are so many resources available to you both on and off campus. On campus, places like the Women’s Center, Counseling Center, Campus Ministry, and Sexual Violence Prevention (through the Dean of Students) are all resources ready to help you in whatever way possible. Local resources like the YWCA or Artemis Center are available to you as well. If a friend
discloses to you that they are involved in an unhealthy relationship, listen, believe them, let them know that it is not their fault, and offer them these resources. Sometimes having the support of a friend can make all the difference in that person leaving the relationship.

On the second floor of Alumni hall, the Women’s Center is hosting A Journey of Healing, an art exhibit created by survivors of intimate partner violence who have utilized services through Artemis Center, a local domestic violence resource agency. The exhibit showcases both the feelings of these survivors while they were in an abusive relationship and how they felt when they left the relationship. It is a powerful visual representation of the hurt and healing involved with intimate partner violence. It creates a more personal connection and understanding with these issues in a way that statistics and articles cannot.

The exhibit is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, 8:30 AM- 10:00 PM through November 10, 2017.

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