Leaders of area domestic violence awareness groups talked to Puyallup campus students Feb. 8 about how domestic violence touches all communities and identities.
Violence can happen to anyone was the message. It’s the dispute between two or more people having to do with power-based violence. Most often someone who saw the violence happen can do something about it, organizers say.
The YWCA, CORE with The Green Dot Training, Hope and the Domestic Violence Prevention club on the Puyallup campus all have one purpose—to make a difference.
Organizers wanted students to be aware of what could be happening around them but explained domestic violence is something many don’t see or hear reports of, said student Rosemarie Clemente, who created the Domestic Violence Prevention club on campus.
Committee Organizing Rape Education Program Coordinator Cassie Hoeprich, CORE Program Director Julie Trang and Melissa Tumas, director of University of Washington’s Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Information Service spoke about what to do or where to go if something happened to you or a loved one.
Statistics from a University Of Washington study show 37,000 college students nationwide were victims of domestic violence in 2009. For a college the size of Pierce, that means 120 students were victims of domestic violence, 4 percent are victims of rape or attempted rape, 207 Pierce students were stalked and almost 10 percent were emotionally traumatized.
They spoke about the two choices people have when they see something happen. The first choice is to help and the second is to do nothing.
Most people choose to do nothing as it may hurt their reputations or put them in harm’s way. Others think it doesn’t involve them or they just simply don’t know what to do.
A bystander may not know the person being harassed, but Tumas painted a not-so-pretty picture about the victim in people’s minds at the meeting.
She asked the audience members to close their eyes. Tumas then explained that they should imagine someone they love such as a best friend, spouse or family member. Think of that person all alone and being harassed or harmed, confronted with a situation of stalking or attempted rape, or another form of domestic violence. Tumas finalized the scenario by asking the audience members to think about a bystander seeing what was happening their loved ones and being able to intervene. She then asked, “Wouldn’t you want them to?”
Tumas said to think about that next time someone sees power-based violence and how the victim is someone’s loved one. That person would expect a bystander to do something.
Pierce College offers counseling referrals and the new Domestic Violence Prevention club plans to meet beginning in March. A date hasn’t been set. Watch for posters publicizing the meeting.
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