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Domestic Abuse Awareness Comes to Campus

On November 3 two speakers came to Emmanuel to give a lecture about domestic violence and how those affected can seek help.

Janese Free, an Assistant Sociology Professor, spoke first. Before becoming a professor she worked as a victim advocate in the Department of Corrections and at the Dorchester Community Roundtable.

It is no longer just called domestic abuse, instead it is referred to as intimate partner abuse. Free explains that calling it, “intimate partner violence allows more for groups to be included, where domestic violence does not.” This includes ex-partners as well. She explained the other groups that fall under this category including partners, elders, and children.

Free then shared statistics for intimate partner abuse. 24 to 33 percent of women are abused and 92 to 95 percent of their abusers are men. Only 50 percent of abuse is reported. Each year 3 million children are abused or neglected.

Boys that are exposed to severe violence in childhood are 200 to 450 times more likely to become abusers in their lifetime.

“Abuse is a learned behavior and you can unlearn a behavior. Nobody is born an abuser,” Free clarifies. She also explains that “power and control are the underlying reasons for abuse.”

Izaida Gonzalez, an advocate at the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) in Worcester MA, spoke next. She is the manager of SAFEPLAN, which is a program that helps educate abuse victims in what steps they can take to protect themselves.

Some roles of SAFEPLAN are: conducting the risks and needs of the victims, inform them of their legal rights, assist with restraining order paperwork, answer questions about restraining order, explain court proceedings, provide in court advocacy, develop safety plan with victims, and provide info and referrals for ongoing support services.

Gonzalez distributed a flyer with several statistics regarding domestic abuse.

1 in 4 women experience some form of violence in her lifetime.

90 percent of homeless women experiences sexual or emotional violence. And 63 percent experienced domestic violence relationships.

Gonzalez went on to describe the differences between a restraining order and a harassment order.

A restraining order is “spousal abuse, language allows for any intimate family member” either by marriage or blood. It also allows you to add children and pets to the order, and “judges will order that all guns and FID cards are confiscated.”

A harassment order is between two people who do not have a relationship, for example coworkers or students. It “provides no contact,” but cannot add dependents and the defendant can keep their weapons.

“The presence of a weapon increases the risk of lethality by 5 times,” Gonzalez explained when speaking as to why it is important that weapons be removed.

To end the lecture there was a Q & A Session.

Q: If the women is the abuser who does she abuse, her child or husband?

A: Gonzalez -“Most of them neglect their children, few abuse their kids.”

Q: If someone is giving you empty threats, is it possible for them to still hurt you?

A: Gonzalez- Usually if threats are being made other abuse if going on. The threat is just one piece.

Q: How do you approach a friend you think is in an abusive relationship?

A: Gonzalez -“Let them know that you are there for them. And you can get familiar with the hotline, they can help you learn how to support your friend.”

Q: What programs are there to help kids who witness the violence not become violent as an adult?

A: Gonzalez – There are programs going to schools, k-12, and colleges teaching about healthy relationships. They also talk about healthy dating in high school.

Q: What do you do to separate yourself from work?

A: Gonzalez- I have to create boundaries. I used to work as a legal assistant and my boss told me that I had to leave work at work, which helped me prepare for this. I can also call the hotline and talk to them to help debrief.

Q: How do you prove emotional abuse?

A:  Gonzalez- Judges take you at your word. It is normally up to individual interpretation for the judges. Also the advocates usually know the judges so they can prepare the victim ahead of time.

Q: How much evidence do you need to get a restraining order that has your kids on it?

A: Gonzalez- This varies. It is always good to print out text messages, emails, photos of abuse/ destruction, and get police reports.

Posted by on November 4, 2015. Filed under Around Campus. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.