Amanda Peterson’s “A Letter to the Editor”

  • The peer educators at the Haven Project would like to bring to the attention of the students of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and the surrounding communities the issue of domestic violence.

    As many of you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. However, as many of you may not know, October is also Domestic Violence Awareness month, a cause signified by a purple ribbon.

    Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the first Day of Unity which was observed in October, 1981 by the National Coalition against Domestic Violence. The intent of the event was to connect advocates across the nation who were working to end violence against women and their children.

    The day sparked a special week of events with varied, diverse but all too common themes: mourning those who have lost their lives at the hands of an intimate partner, celebrating those who have survived and connecting those who work to bring an end to this public health issue.

    In October of 1987 the first DV Awareness Month was officially observed. Two years later the first DV Awareness Commemorative Legislation was passed. This type of legislation continues to be passed and has served as key in NCADV’s efforts to bring awareness to this massive social issue.

    In 1994, NCADV teamed up with Ms. Magazine to create the “Remember My Name,” project, a campaign intended to increase public awareness to domestic violence by creating a national registry of names of individuals who have died as a result of domestic violence. Each year they produce a visual poster with the information they have collected.

    But, how does domestic violence affect us as college students? According to a study done by the US Department of Justice women ages 16-24 experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence, leaving college age women somewhere in that equation.

    Statistics from the NCADV show that 21% of college students reported having experienced dating violence by a current partner and 32% reported experiencing dating violence by a previous partner in a survey conducted in 2007.

    College students face a variety of obstacles when it comes to seeking assistance that may help them terminate their abusive relationships. These obstacles can include feeling trapped by social networks or feeling isolated due to the closed environment of their college campuses or simply not being aware of the resources that our available to them.

    Victims may also fear reprisal from their assailant for coming forward. Sadly, and far too commonly, victims may not even categorize what has happened to them as abuse or somehow associate their abuse with being their fault.

    Our mission as peer educators at IUP is to bring light to the issue of domestic violence. Our domestic violence awareness campaign will take place the week of Oct. 13 through Oct. 17. We also aim to debunk myths about domestic violence. Anyone can be a victim of domestic violence; it does not discriminate between race, gender or socioeconomic class.

    Domestic violence is a public health issue not a private matter between two or more people. For this reason, we must come together to take a stand against domestic violence so that we can create and maintain communities free of violence.

    Amanda Peterson’s “A Letter to the Editor,” from the Penn, Vol. 105, No.11. Published on Friday, October 3, 2014.

    For more information on how you can do your part to end domestic violence or support a survivor of violence, visit the Haven Project or e-mail haven-project@iup.edu.