Southern Utah University’s Women and Gender studies and the Center for Diversity and Inclusion put together a panel of representatives in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month in the Sterling R. Church Auditorium on Thursday, Oct. 21 to talk about the resources domestic violence victims can turn to and how students can help.
Students could join on Zoom as four speakers presented on topics including consent, protective orders and human trafficking. One of the speakers was Canyon Creek Services Representative Kaleigh Bronson-Cook, who wanted to educate students about CCS because her organization wants “communities free of domestic violence and sexual assault” with their services being free and confidential for anyone.
Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior intended to gain power and control. The means to do so include domination, isolation, fear, using social status, emotional abuse and economic abuse.
Utah’s domestic violence rates are higher than the national average. Domestic violence is a complicated matter with much to consider; prevention and intervention are the keys to reducing these rates.
Students can turn to SUU and other community resources if they need help. Title IX Coordinator Jake Johnson ensured their office supervises all investigation procedures while balancing all parties’ rights.
Counseling and Psychological Services Mental Health Counselor Andrea Donovan encouraged victims to use their services because they will “always believe in you and work with you.” Victims who share their stories deserve nothing less than unconditional support.
“Completely validate whatever decision is made in that moment of violence,” said Bronson-Cook. “Supportive services can be used if you’ve left the relationship or not.”
Although every resource differs, similar services offered include victim advocacy, safety planning, youth services and counseling. In particular, students’ fees can cover individual therapy provided by CAPS.
COVID-19 has limited the reach of many of these resources, but the community, especially the SUU Wellness Center, has found creative ways to provide support with Zoom groups and the ability to do court proceedings online. Bronson-Cook and the other panel representatives are willing to be flexible because anything is better than being stagnant.
Students can become active bystanders by calling out problematic behavior and challenging social norms that perpetuate violence. Students can also promote gender equity by elevating women’s voices— cultivating an environment where domestic violence is not normal.
“Everyone has a role to play in eliminating violence,” said Johnson. “It’s worth navigating the process even though it’s complicated.”
Domestic Violence Awareness Month is almost over, but it is time to bring this conversation to different spaces all year round. Getting to the root of the problem begins with an individual who believes something needs to change.
Story & Photo By: Addie Horsley