Women’s Center hosts Domestic Violence Awareness events

Statistics show approximately one in four women will be sexually abused before the age of 18 and/or experience violence from their partners.

For the month of October, the UNA Center for Women’s Studies is promoting Domestic Violence Awareness Month with several keynote speakers and events to help stop domestic violence.

“We had Jessica Simpson from SafePlace speak and we have handed out purple ribbons in the GUC for the students to wear, but our big push will be Oct. 22 with our Clothesline Project and Take Back the Night event,” said Emily Kelley, coordinator of the Center for Women’s Studies.

The Clothesline Project is an event hosted from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in which students can decorate T-shirts that will be displayed as a fence in the backyard of the Center for Women’s Studies.

After the Clothesline Project, students will be invited to stay for Take Back the Night. Take Back the Night will feature both student and professional speakers and allow students to share personal stories.

“We really try to make it a campus wide event and let students sort out any sort of demons they may have,” Kelley said.

Last year, Take Back the Night included student performers, dancing and a slam poet.

“The most significant part of the night for me was when they had the survivors of either domestic violence or sexual assault come up and tell their stories,” said Kaylie Watts, a student volunteer at the center. “It was such a beautiful thing for these students to be brave enough to get up and tell their stories to help other students dealing with the same thing.”

Kelley is already planning next year’s event with hopes of a candlelight march to end the activities.  

With statistics estimating that one in four women and one in six men are sexually abused before the age of 18 and that one in four women will experience violence from their partners in their lifetimes, events like the Clothesline Project and Take Back the Night are crucial in understanding how important the issue is, Kelley said.

“Domestic Violence is a serious issue that happens not only to ‘married couples’ but also younger couples as well,” Watts said. “It is important to let the UNA community know that this does happen and that it is not OK or acceptable behavior.”

The Center for Women’s Studies does not provide counseling; however, it does provide support for students who feel overwhelmed and can refer students to UNA Counseling Services or any off-campus agency.

“I do a lot of listening here,” Kelley said. “I’m like the mom away from home or the kindly aunt. You don’t have to have gone through anything to come here. We can just sit and talk.”