Campus brings awareness of domestic violence at UNA

Jean Ann Willis, a victim of domestic violence, remembers the relationship she left behind in 2007.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and organizations on campus are hoping to educate UNA students about the resources available to victims of domestic violence.

Domestic violence includes verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse that occurs in an intimate relationship. Women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of domestic violence, according to

According to UNA police Chief Bob Pastula, there are usually 2-10 cases of domestic violence reported at UNA each year. This September, two cases of sexual assault were reported.

College students face unique obstacles concerning domestic violence. Jennifer Berry, of UNA Counseling Services, said that students’ desire for connection may cause them to overlook the early warning signs of an abusive relationship.

“It’s in that first part of the relationship (that) we typically overlook those warning signs,” Berry said.

There are many signs of an abusive relationship. Jealousy, possessiveness and a short temper are a few signs of an abusive partner. Berry suggests setting boundaries can prevent one from getting involved in an abusive relationship.

Although college-aged women are at higher risk to experience domestic violence, the crime can happen in any relationship. It happens in gay and lesbian relationships as well, according to Nathan Meints, an area coordinator for Residence Life at UNA.

“Violence, sadly, knows no borders,” he said. “It can happen in any relationship.”

Domestic violence is an under-reported crime. Meints said that domestic violence in gay and lesbian relationships is even more under-reported than violence in heterosexual relationships. He said part of the reason for that is people don’t see healthy same-sex relationships, particularly on television.

There are organizations on campus that can help those involved in a violent relationship. The Women’s Center offers programs year-round that deal with domestic violence and other women’s issues.

On the 20th of this month, the Women’s Center will be holding a Stop the Violence campaign. The campaign will include two major events. The “Clothesline Project,” which will take place that day, will allow students to decorate T-shirts and hang them from a clothesline to speak out against violence. Take Back the Night will be a series of performances, speakers and open mics held at The Women’s Center.

Nov. 7 – 11 will be Sexual Assault Awareness Week. Kaylie Watts, a UNA student, is organizing the event in order to educate students about the issue. She said the event will include giving out rape whistles and having an installation of shoes to represent statistics about how many students are victims of assault.

“We’re going to try to make it come really down to earth to show that it could happen to anyone,” Watts said.

Emily Kelley, director of the women’s center, said it’s important for victims of violence not to blame themselves.

“They haven’t done anything wrong,” she said. “They are the victims.”

If you or anyone you know is being victimized, contact Judicial Affairs or Counseling Services for further assistance.