The Murray Center Promotes Domestic Violence Awareness Month Last October
by Marzia Rahman
In the month of October, NJIT’s Murray Center for Women in Technology promoted “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” by hosting different events each week and by “Taking a Stand” against domestic violence by educating the NJIT community on how to recognize and prevent domestic violence.
Domestic violence is particularly applicable to college campuses, such as NJIT, because the most common victims are women in the ages of eighteen to twenty-four years, the typical age range of college students.
In fact, 43% of dating college women reported experiencing abusive behaviors from their partner. Furthermore, one in five women are sexually assaulted during their college tenures, and date-rape among college students accounts for 35% of attempted rapes, and 12.58% of completed rapes, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, or NCADV.
According to the NCADV website, domestic violence is “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse.”
Every Monday and Thursday during October, the Murray Center encouraged students to come and support the “Take a Stand” campaign and to learn new information regarding the different types of domestic violence.
According to Kelly Gentry, Murray Center Coordinator, the “Take a Stand” campaign was affiliated with the NCADV. As part of the movement, people would respond to a piece of paper that said “I take a stand” and “Why?”
“[Some people wrote] because ‘women are beautiful’ or because ‘men are abused too’. Some people put names, [some put] people they know who have been victims…survivors. It was just to kind of get people to put on paper what domestic violence awareness means to them,” Gentry said. “The National Campaign against Domestic Violence has actually recognized some of our pictures on their Facebook [page]; people everywhere have been doing this, not just at NJIT.”
According to the NCADV website, “Take A Stand is a call to action meant to bring attention to the issue of domestic violence for Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM). By taking a stand, we intend to remind the nation that there are still countless people–victims and survivors, their children and families, their friends and family, their communities–impacted by domestic violence. We, all of us, should not stop until society has zero tolerance for domestic violence and until all victims and survivors can be heard.”
One of the first events the Murray Center hosted was held on October 1, which was the “National Moment of Silence”. The “National Moment of Silence” was also held on Capitol Hill because it was lobbying day for domestic violence.
Gentry said, “So we set up a table outside of our office and we encouraged people to come at [and] stand in a moment of silence in recognition of all the victims and survivors of domestic violence…I would say we had about 15 or 20 students outside, then we got everyone who was in the lounge out there to stand up and join us for that moment and we told them what we were doing and why.”
Members of the Murray Center also tabled and distributed purple bracelets for domestic violence awareness and purple ribbons. They provided essential information about the general statistics about what domestic violence looks like and how people can recognize it. There were also purple signs posted everywhere declaring the statement “Every nine seconds” to grab people’s attention to the fact that every nine seconds a woman is abused.
“The problem with domestic violence is that, in general, not just on college campuses, people don’t always realize it is what it is. It’s very hard to recognize because it’s not just physical abuse… its psychological abuse, its economic abuse, it’s multifaceted,” explained Gentry.
To combat this, a group meeting was held on October 5 titled “But Domestic Violence Doesn’t Affect College Students….” It was geared towards first year women (freshmen and transfer students) sharing information regarding teen dating violence, what it looks like, and how one can recognize it.
“Students shared stories about friends they knew who they really felt like they were not being treated properly. It really was domestic violence, it’s just not physical abuse; people don’t realize that,” said Gentry.
It is important to note that despite its name, “domestic” violence can occur outsides the bounds of a typical, traditional marriage. Dating violence is such an example.
Another similar talk was held on October 6, titled “Relationship Advocacy” where the goal was to promote awareness that domestic violence exists and that it frequently occurs on college campuses.
“Some students shared stories about family members who were married but a lot of them shared stories about friends and their boyfriends and that is psychological abuse, trying to control someone even if it’s telling them like you can’t go out with your girlfriends. [They exert a high level of control]. [And] it’s not easy to leave an abusive relationship, maybe the abuser has control over finances, maybe you’re scared because they have a weapon. There are a lot of reasons why people stay,” Gentry commented.
The Murray Center also played a 2010 documentary titled “Power and Control: Domestic Violence in America,” which followed a woman and her children trying to leave her abuser.
The documentary shows how it is not easy to leave situations involving domestic violence because the victim often lives in fear and the abuser often controls, and manipulates using a variety of tactics such as weapons and finances.
It is important to note that domestic violence does indeed affect men, often through psychological power and control. Domestic violence is not limited to physical abuse.
“Same sex abuse [is] very common in relationships. [It just] doesn’t get publicized as much. [Domestic violence] affects men at much lower rates,” said Gentry.
Perhaps domestic violence is associated with women because it affects women more and because it tends to be more violent with female victims. One in five women and one in seven men have been severely physically abused by an intimate partner, according to the NCADV.
According to Gentry, the Murray Center was started to promote the retention of female students, staff, and faculty in NJIT. In STEM fields, women are underrepresented, which is even true of faculty and staff at NJIT because they are a minority within the faculty and staff role. It is about connecting women students throughout the campus.