Building Community Consciousness Around Domestic Violence

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October is nationally recognized as Domestic Violence
Awareness Month (DVAM) and the Women’s Resources
Center—in collaboration with a variety of campus and
community organizations*—has worked to both raise
awareness of the realities of domestic abuse and to educate
the community about healthy relationships. As part of the
programming for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in
the Champaign-Urbana, the Student Affairs DVAM committee
is hosting an event for almost every day in the
month of October and two month-long projects: These
Hands Don’t Hurt and the That Isn’t Love! Banner Project,
the former being part of a national campaign that asks participants
to trace their hands and add them to a display in
a pledge of non-violence and the latter being a community
art project that gives participants the opportunity to create
a public banner (more info below).
Apart from the aforementioned projects, the DVAM
committee kicked-off the month with a Community
Speak-Out featuring spoken word artist and DV survivor,
Monica Daye on Monday, October 4th at the Alice J.
Campbell Alumni Center. Prior to the open mic, Monica
Daye met with students and members of our C-U community
who had worked in domestic violence prevention
here in town. At the gathering, she shared her own story of
domestic abuse, rape, and healing. As she gave her testimony,
participants began to share their insights, their
work in DV prevention, and their knowledge gained after
years of working for the empowerment of survivors.
Much of the message has been a constant reminder of
how much work there is to do. As was indicated at a
recent domestic violence panel discussion at the Women’s
Resources Center, the phrase “domestic violence” wasn’t
even coined until 1977—and that alone reminds us of
how much the silence around domestic abuse and intimate
partner violence has pervaded our history. Domestic
violence happens behind closed doors. It knows no gender,
no sexuality, no race, nor any other social identity.
Domestic violence can happen in all relationships. The
scars are often invisible to those uninvolved—so much so,
that we hardly know how to recognize them.
Many ask, what are the warning signs of abuse? How
can we work to alleviate domestic violence from our community?
Or, how do I know if I’m in an abusive relationship?
To that end, it’s important to remember that domestic
and intimate partner violence comes in many forms:
emotional, financial (withholding money, etc.), physical,
sexual, child abuse, property abuse, abuse of pets, etc.
Often, it’s easiest to identify an abusive relationship by
illustrating what healthy relationships are defined by: from
mutual respect and consent, to good communication and
mutual empowerment. During the month of October,
“Healthy Relationships Workshops,” facilitated in part by
the campus Counseling Center Trauma Treatment Team,
will explore domestic violence and building healthy relationships—
both with intimate partners and with our communities
at large.
So how can we support domestic violence prevention?
It is often suggested to start by strengthening your local
resources. In times of economic crisis, social services are
often the first to suffer. Most recently, economic hardship
facilitated a merger between local transitional shelter The
Center for Women in Transition (CWIT) and local domestic
violence shelter A Woman’s Place, reminding us of how
important it is to support our local organizations and
resources designed to assist survivors of domestic violence.
Donating and volunteering at local shelters and
resource centers is a large part of helping sustain these safe
spaces in the threat of economic strife.
Another important aspect of DV prevention is to familiarize
yourself with the warning signs of abuse. Some include:
• You’re afraid to break up with your partner because
he/she threatened to hurt you, himself/herself or
someone you care about
• Your partner fosters the belief that you are bad or
• Your partner prevents you from seeing your family
and friends, or from going back to school, or work
• Your partner always checks up or questions you
about what you have been doing; looks through
your belongings
• Your partner uses violent behaviors (throwing
items, punching the wall, etc.) to scare you
• Your partner pressures you into having sex or performing
unwanted sexual acts
• Your partner tells you that if you changed he/she
wouldn’t abuse you
• Stalking is an abusive behavior that is likely to turn
into physical abuse
• Your partner uses loving messages to control you
(ie., “I can’t live without you”)
• Your partner abuses your possessions or your pets.
To learn more about domestic violence prevention and
healthy relationships, follow the Women’s Resources Center
on Twitter (@IllinoisWRC) for daily updates during the
month of October, featuring information about warning
signs, local resources, and healthy relationships. To join
the listserv and recieve weekly eNewsletters for updates on
events, programs, volunteer, and scholarship opportunities,
please e-mail and put
“Add to WRC Listserv” in the subject line.
*The Domestic Violence Awareness Month Committee
is comprised of the Women’s Resources Center, LGBT
Resource Center, Counseling Center, Office of the Dean of
Students, Office of Student Conflict Resolution, Bruce D.
Nesbitt African American Cultural Center, La Casa Cultural
Latina, Diversity and Social Justice Education, Orchard
Downs Family and Graduate Housing, University

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