One in every four women will experience domestic violence in their life, and 21 percent of college students say they experienced dating violence by a current partner, according to the Sojourner Center, a local shelter that provides support services to women and children affected by domestic violence.
ASU students and others in the community are hosting events throughout October, which is Arizona’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Downtown Phoenix Campus Aware is one student organization devoting attention to the issue. Health sciences junior Kayla Valdez, the club’s secretary, said DPC Aware focuses on all forms of student health and wellbeing, and domestic abuse is part of that.
“Domestic abuse is very serious and much more common than most people think,” she said. “We want to raise awareness to the students of all of the different forms of abuse in hopes that they will be able to recognize if they are victims of abuse or possible offenders and in turn stop the cycle from continuing.”
On Wednesday, DPC Aware will hold a table event where students decorate T-shirts to depict different forms of domestic violence. These T-shirts will display during the group’s main event on Oct. 30, Valdez said.
At the main event, students will be able to paint their hands purple, the color representing the month, and press them against a large piece of blank paper to “take a stand against domestic violence,” she said. The time and location of the event has yet to be determined.
Valdez said students can donate shirts and towels to the Sojourner Center at the event.
“A donator will receive a DPC Aware or ASU Wellness swag item,” she said.
Various purple-themed activities, such as face- and nail-painting, will also occur throughout the event, Valdez said.
“From 5 to 6 p.m. we will have a speaker, Jessica Yaffa, who is a nationally recognized speaker on domestic violence, to speak to students,” she said.
Yaffa founded The Rock Church Domestic Violence Ministry. She is a survivor of domestic violence and travels the country speaking about her experience.
Students can earn tickets throughout the event by participating in activities and, at the end, there will be a drawing for one grand prize and 10 smaller prizes.
Valdez said students can get involved by attending events and also by volunteering at local shelters like the Sojourner Center and Chrysalis.
“There are many myths related to the topic as well as a lot of misinformation,” she said. “Everyone needs to be educated to be able to recognize abuse and prevent it, even if they think it will never happen to them or doesn’t apply to them.”
Women and gender studies senior Shannon Jenkins is enrolled in a senior seminar class called domestic violence, policy and law. Through that class, students were required to break into groups and create an event for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Jenkins and her group developed the idea of a panel discussion, which was held on Monday. Panel members included representatives from ASU Health and Wellness, the campus police department and ASU Counseling Services, as well as a panelist from the Sojourner Center.
“I think our whole group is really proud of the work we did, and we were really pleased with the way the event turned out,” she said.
The other group from her class is creating its own version of the Clothesline Project, to the Student Services Building lawn Wednesday through Friday.
The project “is a visual display of shirts with graphic messages and illustrations that have been designed by survivors of domestic violence or by someone who loves a person who has been killed,” according to its website.
Between 300 and 500 shirts will be displayed throughout the three days.
The local community recently came together for “Bras for a Cause,” an event brought to the Valley four years ago by Mathew Blades, morning show host at Mix 96.9 radio.
Listeners are encouraged to donate bras to various locations around the Valley, he said.
Each bra donated equals $1 for the Sojourner Center, which has been the benefactor of the drive all four years, Blades said.
“The Sojourner Center is a domestic violence
shelter,” he said. “When it gets to a really bad place, these women can go and stay at the Sojourner Center, and it’s a safe haven away from everything that they’re dealing with.”
Blades said women often come into the shelter with only their kids and purse, and either do not think to pack or do not have time, so the need for intimate wear is high at the shelter.
This year’s event, which took place Oct. 11, raised nearly $5,000 for the center, donated by Larry H. Miller Volkswagen in Avondale. Spectators could see a “wall of bras” hung in Tempe Marketplace that day.
The event raises awareness for both domestic violence and breast cancer. The bras represent breast cancer, while the cause of the event is domestic violence, Blades said.
“It’s up to us as a community to really rise up and help them out,” he said.
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