Domestic Violence Awareness Initiative Held on Campus

by Rose Brennan

Asst. Editor

Manhattan College’s student government began a series of awareness initiatives on Wednesday, Oct. 18 with kNOw More’s domestic violence awareness.

The awareness initiative was held on the first floor of the Kelly Student Commons and was spearheaded by Kaitlyn von Runnen, the student body’s vice president for educational affairs.  The idea was developed over the summer by student government.

“The main goal of the whole kNOw More series is to not only try to put an end to [domestic violence], but try to educate yourself and each other on the issue.  So that’s why we give out pamphlets with information that we’ve gathered from different national organizations and associations to decide on what to do if you’re a victim, if you’re the perpetrator, if you are witnesses to this, so that everyone feels that they have a say in or have something to do [that matters] in the issue,” von Runnen said.

The initiative was a collaborative effort among many MC resources and organizations along with student government and the kNOw More campaign.

“I’m […] an RA, so through RA training, I heard a lot through Green Dot and a lot of different issues through the counseling center, so we decided to partner with them.  Since October is the national month for domestic violence awareness, we decided to do that as our first initiative,” von Runnen said.

Sophomores Faith LaRock and Anna Rosario are members of the college’s kNOw More committee, a sub-group of student government. The committe is looking to expand their membership through raising awareness in the initiative.

“The more people we get involved and are made aware of the issue, then that’s doing something, because one person can’t change a campus, but we’re in Kelly, and Kelly’s huge.  If everyone who’s in Kelly comes by and stops by or sees the art and gets inspired and keeps that in the back of their mind […] they’ll know that it is a problem on campus and can probably direct them towards people that can help,” said Rosario.

“We’re both very interested in bringing attention to such an issue,” LaRock said.

Domestic violence is defined as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, and/or other abusive behavior as a part of systematic pattern of power and control by one intimate partner against another.”

Domestic violence may seem uncommon, but it is actually a much more prevalent problem than one might think. According to information provided by student government during the event, 20 people per minute are assaulted by their intimate partner in the United States.

“That’s a really big misconception about domestic violence.  People think that it’s their fault, or that there’s no one there to understand what they’re going through,” Rosario said.

The problem also disproportionately affects women.  One in three women have been victims of some form of physical abuse at the hands of an intimate partner.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month, and von Runnen and student government sought to educate the student body in a variety of ways.

First, many MC social media accounts encouraged the student body to wear purple, the official color for domestic violence awareness.  Throughout the initiative, many different students wearing many shades of purple were seen on the first floor of Kelly Commons.

Other visual aspects were also employed by the initiative. Sanctus Artem, MC’s art club, displayed a number of art pieces done by students centering around the theme of domestic violence.

The initiative also displayed poetry, essays and other written works by MC students which focused on domestic violence and abuse.

“Every fault added another chink in my armor.  I listened to you.  I apologized.  I took every insult like I’ve always done.  It was my fault,” one of the poems said.

October’s domestic violence initiative marks a first of many for MC’s student government.  Von Runnen stated that November’s initiative will focus on suicide awareness.

“Other events that we’re thinking of [are] stalking awareness, domestic abuse, sexual assault, harassment, those types of issues [that] really happen on college campuses and we feel that we should bring attention to,” she said.  “We’re going to look at the national awareness months throughout the academic year and decide what we think would best fit the Manhattan College campus to promote awareness for.”

For those that feel that they may be victims of domestic violence or abuse, von Runnen and student government encourage reaching out and seeking help.

“The first thing I would say is that they’re not alone.  There are a lot of people here who are willing to support them and encourage them to seek help,” von Runnen said.

“There are people on campus that are always here for you,” LaRock said.