The problematic discourse of domestic violence
By Anna Rangos
Trigger warning: domestic violence
Recently, you may have noticed Roosevelt University’s domestic violence awareness campaign, which is seemingly aimed to raise awareness about domestic violence and lend support to victims.
However, the campaign, spearheaded by the Center for Student Involvement and SPEED, is laden with problematic language, blatant disregard for victims’ mental health and victim bashing.
SPEED recently organized an event called Chemistry or Chaos, which was aimed at showing potential warning signs for abusive relationships.
At surface level, the event seems to be educational and empowering to victims. However, by attempting to make the event sound catchy or kitschy, it inherently diminishes any trauma domestic violence victims experience. It essentially makes light of domestic violence.
There’s nothing glamorous about domestic violence. Furthermore, domestic violence isn’t as simple as having chemistry or chaos; it’s about the abuser exerting control over the victim.
Aside from planning events, SPEED and CSI have elected to place a large-scale poster along the passageway between the Auditorium and Wabash Building. The poster is filled with slogans such as “face your fears,” “pray about it,” and “everyone has rights, no matter what,” as well as many other sugarcoated sayings.
However, there is no real way to sugarcoat domestic violence, because by sugarcoating it, we are diminishing the pain it has caused its victims. Instead, we should be acknowledging victims’ pain and empowering them.
In an attempt to learn more about the campaign, I went to the CSI office, where I was introduced to a SPEED board member who had planned the Chemistry or Chaos event.
I voiced my concerns with them, only to be met with a victim-bashing attitude. While at the office, I felt as if I was forced to out myself as a victim of domestic violence to legitimize my point.
I also found out that the event was planned without consulting the Women and Gender Studies Department or a mental health professional, which is incredibly problematic. Domestic violence can be an incredibly difficult subject to talk about because there is so much deep-rooted pain. When leading a domestic violence workshop, I would hope one has extensive knowledge of abusive relationships and has been properly trained to work with victims in order to create a safe space for victims.
Sadly, I was met with the same victim-bashing attitude from the CSI staff members. While they were apologetic, they apologized for me being triggered, but not for their event being triggering.
By saying things such as, “I’m sorry you were offended by the event,” it is automatically placing blame on the victim. CSI and SPEED need to take responsibility for themselves. I question their dedication to supporting domestic violence victims, when they are blaming them for being triggered.
As a victim of domestic violence, I was incredibly triggered by these posters, events and interactions I had. I’m currently attempting to rebuild my life after the abuse of my partner, and seeing posters with sayings such as, “face your fears” is incredibly detrimental to my mental health.
Roosevelt is supposed to be a safe space. Where is the support for victims at Roosevelt?
I should never feel unsafe in my own school, especially at the hands of people who are claiming to support me.
Leaving an abusive relationship is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I spent three years of my life suffering silently, being told by society that my pain was an illusion. I’m much happier now, but I still have to take my mental health incredibly seriously. All I can do is continue to work on myself and do what makes me happy, whether it is blogging or making art.
I want to thank my queer family for all of the unconditional love and support that they have been showering me with lately, especially SK, NS, and TS.
Domestic violence victims need as much support as possible in order to regain control of their life, and need to be in an environment nurturing of their growth.
Roosevelt has a lot of work to do when it comes to creating safe spaces, and I can only hope that one day those safe spaces will be at Roosevelt.
Self-care is community care.