October is recognized as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Knowledge about domestic violence and what to do in an abusive situation can help college students navigating the dating world.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, domestic violence is defined as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.”
Elizabethtown College offers many events, programs and services to spread domestic violence awareness in October and throughout the year.
From Oct. 16 through Oct. 20, the High Library hosted a Silent Witness Display for the third time.
The display consists of life-size wooden cutouts of real men, women and children from Lancaster County whose deaths were caused by domestic violence accompanied by photos of and stories about the people they represent. One piece of the display was an empty crib.
“The crib definitely resonated with me most,” Library Director Sarah Penniman said. “That one’s usually put in a prominent place, and its location this year definitely made people notice it.”
According to the Silent Witness Initiative’s website, the display is designed to “rally community support, to grieve the losses of human life, create awareness and education materials and programs by collaborating with concerned and passionate members of your local community.”
Penniman said the display always receives “positive feedback despite its negative subject.”
She noticed many Etown students, faculty and staff and even some members of the public coming to see the figures.
There was also a Domestic Violence Awareness Fair Thursday, Oct. 26.
Several tables featuring organizations from on and off campus lined the BSC Concourse and offered information and activities related to domestic violence awareness. One table featured representatives from the new It’s On Us club.
Junior Hannah Burleigh was one of 240 students from across the nation chosen to start a college chapter of It’s On Us.
Students who visited the It’s On Us table could sign up for the club and also take the It’s On Us campaign’s pledge.
Any student who followed the club on social media was given a free It’s On Us t-shirt.
Students who sign the It’s On Us pledge vow to “recognize that non-consensual sex is sexual assault and to create an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported,” among other tasks.
A few other events are held throughout the month of October, as well.
Etown hosts a Yards for Yeardley Walk/Run in collaboration with the One Love Foundation, and an Escalation workshop in October.
Both of these programs educate people on the signs of healthy and unhealthy relationships.
There are also several ongoing programs and services related to domestic violence and sexual assault. Campus Security posts a Daily Crime and Fire Log on the College website.
According to the log, 123 total crimes were handled by Campus Security from Oct. 2016 to Oct. 2017.
Of these, three were listed as “sexual offenses.” But that does not mean that only three sexual offenses have been committed at Etown in the past year. Some victims may be afraid to tell someone about their experience, and according to the NCADV, only 34 percent of victims injured by their partners seek out medical care.
Counseling Services also offers help to domestic violence victims. According to Counseling Services Director Bruce Lynch, all services provided are free and confidential. Scheduled meetings, walk-in sessions, and a counselor on call are all available.
Lynch said visiting Counseling Services can especially benefit domestic violence victims who do not know what to do next in terms of dealing with their situations.
“When people can work through their sadness, anger and self-critical thoughts, they feel better about themselves, regain control of their lives and make the decision about what next step to take,” he said.