DVAM Co-Chair Welcome Letter
Domestic violence is behavior in a relationship or household—typically within an intimate relationship—that is used to obtain or reinforce power and control over the other party (United Nations). As this year’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) co-chairs, and on behalf of the Center for Student Wellness, we would like to welcome you to a month that does more than call our attention to the existence of domestic violence.
DVAM has many purposes. It supports survivors and secondary survivors, who are those affected by violence against a loved one. DVAM spreads the word about what is considered abuse, physical or non-physical, thus allowing the public to better understand when their own actions may be harmful and motivating those in danger to seek help. DVAM forces us to think about why domestic violence exists in our culture and to acknowledge the power differentials that abusers exploit and maintain.
We believe prevention of domestic violence will require a large-scale improvement in healthy relationships education to stop potential perpetrators from becoming abusive. We also seek the involvement of men in speaking out against domestic violence. The most crucial change we need is a wider acceptance of human rights and autonomy. Individually, we can reflect on how our own privileges impact how we treat others, avoid passing statements that normalize domestic violence and use any platforms we have to condone domestic violence.
Recognizing that we cannot prevent what has already occurred, it is necessary that we go about our lives with the assumption that we are surrounded by survivors and thus take extra care to respect our peers and check in on them if we have concerns.
Did you know that you are most likely interacting with a survivor of domestic violence daily?
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, there are more than 20,000 phone calls placed to domestic violence hotlines nationwide on any typical day. Additionally, 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States have been raped in their lifetime. Intimate partner violence is most commonly inflicted upon women between the ages of 18 and 24, making domestic violence an incredibly valuable subject for University of Utah students to be familiar with.
Throughout the past few months, we have worked hard to plan events geared towards raising awareness about domestic violence, encouraging supportive conversations among peers and highlighting campus resources available to all students. Upcoming events include workshops provided by the ACES Peer Health Educators with the Center for Student Wellness (“It’s a Match,” “Challenging Rape Culture”), a DVAM-themed “Never Have I Ever”, a Clothesline Project, Purple Thursday and an animal therapy support space for students. More information will be posted about each event and topics related to domestic violence will be featured on our Instagram: @uofuwellness and our Center for Student Wellness.
#WeAreResilient, but #LoveShouldn’tHurt.
Eleanor Asma, ACES peer health educator
Shalini Kasera, ACES peer health educator