By Jordan Geriane
A significant number of college women experience dating violence and abuse without any support or awareness about the resources that can help them break through the cycle.
As Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence Awareness month comes to a close, it is important to learn and realize that the narrative of dating violence awareness should not stop at the end of the month. The prominent issue of sexual assault and domestic violence affects every person of every color, predominantly women and girls.
According to BreaktheCycle.org, an organization that affirms young people to build healthy and cultural relationships without abuse, “a significant number of college women are victims of violence and abuse.”
Their research states that “43 percent of dating college women report experiencing some violent and abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, tech, verbal or controlling abuse, and over one in five college women report actual physical abuse, sexual abuse or threats of physical violence.”
Break the Cycle further states that 58 percent of “college women report knowing a friend who has experienced violent and abusive dating behaviors,” but do not know what to do to help them or get help for them.
It is time to break that cycle, get help for the victims of dating violence and become more educated on this pressing issue.
People can begin furthering the narrative within their communities such as school organizations and city-wide institutions.
Here at Roosevelt University, the student-led organization titled Sexual Assault Survivors Support (SASS) is a safe and fruitful environment for survivors of sexual assault, intimate partner violence, childhood abuse and stalking.
Office of Title IX Compliance coordinator, Alice Jones, is also the advisor to SASS and attends meetings, as per requested by the student leaders, as a supportive figure.
“This group is largely student led and it is a unique group. I attend meetings particularly if the topic seems like it could be one that gets overwhelming,” Jones said. “We walk a tightrope in some sense. The founding students really wanted the group to not be therapy-driven but rather, an organic conversation about shared experiences.”
Jones stated that the students wanted to be able to just speak openly with other survivors. So, she occasionally comes in and out of meetings as requested by the students. Sometimes, they want her to assist, while other times, they ask her to allow them their own conversations.
Jones said Roosevelt is trying to further the narrative and educate college students about domestic violence and sexual abuse by holding a program every year for domestic violence month and sexual assault awareness month.
“I also try to be highly visible on campus. People now know me and tend to be willing to call or reach out if they have questions about things,” Jones said. “I do let people know immediately that I am not a confidential resource. If someone reports something to me, I have to act accordingly, but I also can point them in the direction of confidential resources.”
These confidential resources includes the Counseling Center, as well as the confidential advisor, Ladonna Long.
Stretching out the platform of awareness, some city-wide institutions that provide assistance and support to victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and dating abuse includes the Sexual Trauma Awareness and Recovery Services (STARS) and the YWCA Metropolitan Chicago.
STARS is a counseling center for victims of sexual violence looking for a supportive group and/or counselor to confide in while in the aftermath of sexual violence.
According to their website, “The STARS counselors provide respectful, effective and compassionate support to adults of all genders, through counseling services for survivors of sexual violence and other interpersonal trauma.”The counselors respond to survivors with respect and dignity, recognizing that sexual violence comes from all cultures and class boundaries, offering culturally sensitive services to adults in a non-judgemental environment.