By: Victoria Mescall
I didn’t know how to start this. And that in itself is the ball game. Being part of a culture that is prone not to talk about it, makes it near impossible to start the conversation.
But words matter. And we have to start somewhere.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of domestic violence. And every 9 seconds in the United States, a woman gets beaten and abused.
I’m not talking about a third world country, that is lacking infrastructure or electricity. I’m talking about the United States. I’m talking about Fairfield County. I’m talking about here.
Domestic Violence can be easily overlooked. It is easy to say ‘that doesn’t happen here’. It’s easy to walk around thinking ‘not on my campus’.
But the truth isn’t easy. The truth is hard.
Yes, it happens here.
Yes, even at our school.
It happens everywhere. From Fairfield County, to Orange County. And admitting that, is the first step to preventing it. Not talking about it, doesn’t stop the problem.
Silence begets violence.
Dating violence is domestic violence. And domestic violence does happen in college.
The United States Department of Justice defines domestic violence as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.”
This means that any sort of imbalanced or unhealthy relationship can fall into this category. Whether it is side comments about your actions, statements barring you from seeing your friends, or demands that your partner has access to your texts or Snapchat, it is abuse. Black eyes aren’t the only warning signs.
It’s not hard to justify why we don’t talk about it. Because all couples fight. Right? It wasn’t weird that she asked for your phone password. It was cute when he knew what class to wait for you outside of. Until it wasn’t.
Everything is always nice in the beginning. You don’t start off dating someone who put their hands on you.
But if you find yourself in that situation, please know it is not your fault. Because it is still assault even if you were violated by someone you were dating. It is still not okay even if you willingly went outside or upstairs with them.
Yes, that is assault, and no, it is not okay.
This isn’t violence like the kind you see on TV. No terrorist cell blew up a building, or senselessly drove a truck into or opened fire into a crowd.
This is a different type of violence. It takes place in neighborhoods with money, and those without. It affects men and women of every color, creed, and ethnicity. And it is more often than not a silent problem.
So we need to talk about it. We need to be able to have this conversation – in our classrooms, on our sports fields, and in our homes and residential halls.
The victim could be anyone: man, woman or child. But so could the batterer. So we need to hold our friends, teammates, sorority sisters and fraternity brothers, floor mates, and even ourselves accountable.
This October, be aware. If you see something, say something.
It is not easy to talk about. But speaking up and saying something, may put you in the position to stop someone from being harmed.
You might be the first person to notice that something just isn’t right. You might be the voice a victim was waiting to hear.
So stop the silence, and help end the violence.
And if you or someone you love has been affected by domestic violence, please call the Bridgeport Center For Family Justice 24 hour hotline at 203-384-9559 to talk.