College recognizes domestic violence, supports survivors

The Etownian October 13, 2016 0

Domestic violence awareness is celebrated during the month of October.The Office of Student Wellness picked the week of Sept. 10 – Sept. 14 to educate the students at Elizabethtown College about how to prevent domestic violence.

The Elizabethtown College Student Wellness Advocacy Group (S.W.A.G.) promotes domestic violence awareness by encouraging staff and faculty to display red flag “bouquets” on their desks.

The red flags represent the warning signs, which can be present in a relationship.

Faculty and staff volunteered to display these “bouquets” to show their support for people who are going through tough times. Each bouquet is accompanied by a list of campus resources for those who need it.

“We want to educate others on domestic violence to help end the stigma against the survivors and to promote healthy relationships,” junior and S.W.A.G. member Laura Jobe said.

The Silent Witness display is another event hosted by S.W.A.G. during this week. It is set up in the High Library from Tuesday, Oct. 11 to Monday, Oct. 17.

The Silent Witness National Initiative began the project, which tells the stories of victims of domestic violence in an interactive way.

Fifteen cutouts of human figures stand in the Library. They line a path where visitors can come up to them and read their story.

Some have pictures and eulogies written by family members. All the portraits tell the story of an individual who was killed by their significant other in cases of domestic violence.

Visitors are encouraged to catalogue their thoughts in a guest book beside the information table. Many have responded or related to the display.

“Chilling,” one anonymous visitor wrote. Others told stories of past abuse or simply reiterated the importance of being aware and careful. One entry said, “If you see something, say something.”

The display begins and ends at a table littered with pamphlets with information, contacts and red flags in a relationship. Visitors are free to take and use the resources available.

Oct. 12, S.W.A.G. hosted an event called the “Escalation Workshop” in Hoover 110. The workshop was led by Alison Bridgman, Director of Residence Life, and Amanda Cheetam, supervisor of S.W.A.G.

The workshop included a movie about dating violence in college. The movie was followed by a discussion about the warning signs of domestic abuse and being an active bystander.

The goal of the workshop was to educate students on the red flags of abuse and train them in helping themselves and others in the face of dating violence.

Alison Bridgman began the workshop the summer of 2016 after conducting experimental workshops with groups.

Using supplies from the One Love Foundation, which educates people about how to end dating violence, Bridgman saw positive results.

“There was a lot of positive feedback,” Bridgman said. “A lot of people were able to comment and come up with their own ideas based on what they learned from the film.”

The film shown, “Escalation,” tells the story of Paige and Chase. Paige and Chase began as a normal college relationship. Soon after they made their relationship official, Chase began to behave in strange ways.

Often, he would act clingy and jealous, following Paige and making her stay close to him. He became angry when she talked to others, threatened to hurt himself if she left him and insulted her in order to make her believe she was worthless.

After the film, the group was silent. Bridgman opened the floor to questions about the film and some of the red flags in the relationship. Slowly, people began to open up.

Many realized that the warnings were clear, but it was hard to notice them in the moment or talk about them with others.

“It’s important to be honest about what is positive and what is negative about your relationships,” Bridgman said.

This began the discussion on what a students should do if they feel there are warning signs in their relationship.

Bridgman encouraged the group to think about what made a relationship healthy. The group also discussed how they can help others in abusive relationships.

“How can you create an environment where people feel free talking to you about emotional or physical abuse?” Bridgman asked.

At this point, the group considered questions they would ask or support they would offer to a friend who was being abused.

Bridgman also talked about the concept of safety planning, in which support is organized to protect an abused person after their relationship ends.

Bridgman, in partnership with S.W.A.G., plans to continue hosting the workshop and hopes it will run far beyond Domestic Violence Awareness week.

“We’ve made the workshop accessible to all sports teams, RA’s, peer mentors and faculty,” Bridgeman said.

S.W.A.G. also sponsored a resource table for students to learn about resources and help available both on and off campus for relationship problems.

These resources included how to look for red flags in relationships. They also gave the statistic that one in five college students are sexually assaulted while in college.

There were also pamphlets that explained how domestic violence does not only hurt the victim but everyone around the domestic violence problem as well, including kids.

Domestic Violence Services of Lancaster County holds counseling for parents, offering support and guidance in talking to children after a domestic violence incident has occurred.


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