October is a time for students to educate themselves on patterns of abuse and how to keep themselves and their peers safe.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a chance for survivors and advocates alike to raise awareness to the topic of domestic abuse and its effects on victims. Several national organizations, like Take A Stand or Break the Cycle, believe October cannot be a month of silence; instead, they dedicate the month to share the stories of victims and support the millions that are affected by domestic violence.
Misinformation clogs the common idea of what occurs in domestic abuse. Anyone can be a perpetrator or victim of domestic violence — abuse is abuse, and it is not limited to women. Domestic abuse, moreover, is not only physical violence. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, it can include behaviors that arouse fear, force a partner to behave in specific ways or prevent them from doing what they want. Physical and sexual violence may occur, or emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many different forms can happen within the same relationship.
Why does National Domestic Violence Awareness Month matter?
“Because we still have to ask that question,” says Kelsey Hancock, TU’s Violence Prevention Program Coordinator. “We are always going to need to dedicate time to address these issues until they become structured in our society.”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), Oklahoma is ranked third in the nation for women killed by men in “single victim-single offender homicides.” Almost four in 10 women living in Oklahoma have experienced physical violence by a significant other. In 2017, Tulsa documented 22,257 calls to 911 related to domestic violence.
At TU, the Clothesline Project and the Student Alliance for Violence Education (SAVE) intend to show solidarity with victims of domestic abuse. The Clothesline Project brings awareness to victims and survivors by displaying messages written by those individuals on a clothesline displayed every October. SAVE is a student group that organizes educational programming for the campus community, staffs the Clothesline Project and fundraises for the Domestic Violence Intervention Services of Tulsa (DVIS).
To help improve overall awareness of domestic violence, Hancock suggests those interested to get a group of people together and get a 90-minute bystander intervention training. All first-year ENS students, fraternities and sororities and first-year athletes receive this training. Many freshmen experience courses have professors that request the training as well.
Outside of training, there are still ways to support victims. If you worry your friend is in an abusive relationship, Hancock suggests keeping an eye on the situation and remind the victim that they deserve respect and kindness.
“For friends to be helpful, don’t attack the abuser,” Hancock says. “Instead, describe positive and healthy behaviors that you want your friend to have. We need to make sure we are not totally bashing the abuser.”
To avoid continuing the cycle of abuse, it is important to remain supportive.
“When your friend tells the abuser the things you have said,” she continues, “the abuser may take measures to cut you off from them.”
National Domestic Violence Awareness month is essentially about learning the patterns of violence like these and what to do in response. It is also very important to learn about some of the more in-depth data about our campus specifically in order to make a safer place for everyone.
One place to find this data is by reading the Campus Climate Survey results, which is an anonymous and reliable way to collect data about violence on campus.
The survey for the 2018-2019 school year was just released a few weeks ago, and there are some interesting bits of information to be aware of this October.
Last year, “9.7 percent of female participants and 7.9 percent of male participants reported experiencing at least one incident of physical assault by a partner while enrolled at TU,” according to the survey.
This number is actually lower from two years ago which stated, “19 percent of female participants and 13.9 percent of male participants reported experiencing at least one incidence of physical assault by a partner while enrolled at TU.”
As for 2018-2019 sexual assualts, “8.6 percent of students reported the experience of forced, drug facilitated, or attempted sexual assault while a student at TU.”
By comparison 2017-2018 data indicated “11.6 percent” of students reported a sexual assault, if attempts are considered.
These are not the only improvements.
One of the biggest changes in last year’s data compared to that of the 2017-2018 school can be found in the results for the question that asks how much students agree with the statement, “If a friend or I were a victim of interpersonal violence, I know where to go to get help.”
The results indicated that 88.2 percent of students who took the survey last year “believed at the ‘Strongly agree’ to ‘Agree’ level” that they would know where to get help. Data from two years ago indicated just 81 percent of survey takers agreed.
The smallest jump in this section of the survey indicated that just 65.8 percent of students agree that they “understand TU’s formal procedures to address complaints of interpersonal violence,” which is only up 0.8 percent from last year.
There are many other patterns and changes available for study in the survey that can be found at. This Domestic Violence Awareness month is the perfect time to look through the Campus Climate survey to educate yourself on safety issues on campus.