ASUPD, clubs promote 'Wear Purple Day' to educate students on domestic violence

ASU police will wear patches and work with the University to raise awareness of domestic violence

ASU police, students, faculty and staff took part in raising awareness for domestic violence through Wear Purple Day on Thursday, Oct. 19.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and ASU was ready to participate. ASU police will wear purple patches to signify domestic violence awareness through the month.

The Student Services lawn on the Tempe campus held a tabling event with organizations hoping to promote education and awareness of sexual assault and domestic violence, including the ASU Police Department and clubs Team One Love, Sun Devil Support Network and VOX: Voices for Planned Parenthood.

This effort to raise awareness of domestic violence comes following Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos's repeal of Obama-era policies on sexual violence on college campuses.

Read More: DeVos rescinds Obama-era directive on campus sexual assault investigations 

Lynn Spillers, a victim advocate with ASUPD, was among many people participating in the event and giving information to the ASU community. 

“My role really consists of first and foremost being a support system to (victims),” Spillers said. “These duties include listening, hearing what the victim needs and trying to figure out how to best support them and achieve their needs.”

She said her other duties include going to court with victims, helping them obtain orders of protection or injunctions against harassment, linking them with a prosecutor, explaining their reporting options and explaining the justice system.

Spillers hopes the work to spread awareness continues long after events like this.

“I hope what comes from it is that it keeps the conversation going, and it doesn’t end at Domestic Violence Awareness month or Wear Purple Day,” she said. 

Alesha Durfee, a professor in ASU's School of Social Transformation, said there is a significant need for domestic violence education on campus. 

"One in three women and surprisingly one in four men will be victimized or injured by their partner in their lifetime ... ages 18 to 24 are some of the highest at-risk age groups," Durfee said. "We have a serious responsibility to be talking about this on college campuses."

Katy Harris, a spokesperson for ASU police, said sexual assault and domestic violence are two of the biggest issues ASU police deal with on campus. 

Read More: University's annual crime report: sexual violence increases on campus 

“We want our students, faculty and staff to all be in healthy relationships, and if we can get more awareness out there to promote education, that’s our goal,” she said. "We participate with student groups on campus to promote awareness and education and get resources out there."

Harris was accompanied by Shannon Estes, the mother of Shayley Estes, an ASU student killed in a domestic violence incident in 2015.

“I think it’s great that they’re doing this to spread the awareness,” Shannon said. “There’s a lot of help out there.”

Shannon Estes said she hopes more people become educated on domestic violence to prevent these situations from becoming as serious as her daughter’s case. 

“Pay attention to signs because a lot of people hide it. If you have a friend you suspect is dealing with it, get involved," she said.

ASU Police Chief Michael L. Thompson has made efforts to provide better services and support for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. 

Among those efforts was the addition of victim advocate Lynn Spillers, the start of a Special Victims Unit within the ASU police department and the creation of a “Soft Room” for victims to feel comfortable in, decorated by Winged Hope Family Advocacy Foundation, Harris said.

ASU police also offers free self-defense courses called Rape Aggression Defense Systems (R.A.D.S.) that work in conjunction with events like Wear Purple Day to promote awareness.

“They work hand-in-hand with the same ideologies you’re going to be taught with the tabling events,” said Daniel Miller, an ASU police officer and R.A.D. instructor.

Katy Harris said she has taken the training herself and is thankful for the service. 

“It gave me the self-esteem to know that my chances of surviving an attack are increased with those skills from R.A.D.,” she said.


Reach the reporter at mlutesad@asu.edu or follow @mackinleyjade on Twitter. 

Reach the reporter at rdhood@asu.edu or follow @rhoodofficial on Twitter. 

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