October 2, 2013
October marks the beginning of Domestic Abuse Awareness Month. At Dominican, the student organization Domestic Abuse Stops Here takes great strides to bring about awareness of the issue to the campus.
In previous years, D.A.S.H. has sponsored guest speakers and community awareness talks including “speak-outs” at the Legacy Statue, an event which allows sexual abuse survivors and their supporters to share stories. Recently, D.A.S.H. started a program called “Take Back the Night,” where students host a rally on campus and march down Division Street.
Students at Dominican often give a positive response in support to all the group does to raise awareness on stereotypically taboo issues.
“I think it’s imperative so that we know the signs of it before things get worse,” junior Lauren Miller said. “Particularly, in a relationship, this information would be vital, potentially to someone’s life.”
This month, D.A.S.H. will plan activities to spread domestic abuse awareness around campus and get students involved with tackling the issue. While all plans are not set, junior and Co-President of D.A.S.H. Violet Gallardo plans to work with the Wellness Center to sponsor a panel featuring local domestic violence shelter Pillars and the Constance Morris House. The panel will include facts surrounding survivors’ stories of abuse.
“The program is called Smack’d, and it is about the stigma associated with domestic violence,” Gallardo explained.
D.A.S.H. is also focusing on collaborating with other campus organizations, including Common Ground, Amnesty International, Residence Life and University Ministry. Dr. Michelle VanNatta, advisor for D.A.S.H., thinks there is true importance around speaking about domestic abuse on college campuses with other organizations.
“We have students who have observed domestic violence in their homes growing up and students who are in relationships where they are experiencing partner violence and abuse,” VanNatta said. “We need to hold perpetrators accountable and not accept this behavior in our communities. We need to understand, support and not blame survivors.”
“Just this past month alone, there have been two national reports about sexual assault and the support of rape culture at Benedictine University and Saint Mary’s University,” Gallardo said. “I want our community to know we take issues very seriously and want to educate our community to be safer.”