Quit being a bystander this Domestic Violence Awareness Month

 Students participate in the March to End Victim Blaming on October 19. (Christopher Hanna/The Daily Campus)

Students participate in the March to End Victim Blaming on October 19. (Christopher Hanna/The Daily Campus)

October marks the 31st Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The month is dedicated to mourning those who have died because of domestic violence, celebrating those who have survived and connecting those who work to end violence, according to nrcdv.org.

Rhys Hall, a facilitator of the Men’s Project and a fifth-semester PhD student in the sociology department, spoke about the importance of dedicating a month to issues of domestic violence.

“Even though this is obviously not an issue that is only in certain times of the year, it is something that sometimes you do need a month to remind folks to promote conversations and dialogues and potentially on campus have organized events that will promote awareness. So I can see the importance of a month absolutely,” Hall said.

Hall spoke about how it’s easy to think of domestic violence as a distant issue that adults and married couples deal with, but domestic violence doesn’t discriminate.

“It impacts across all levels and also across education so having a space where students can talk about either their observations or in some cases their experiences with domestic violence is crucial especially on a college campus I’d say where some of those resources may not be readily available or discussed within classes even,” Hall said.

The Women’s center is a resource for students dealing with domestic violence. Through programs like the Violence Against Women’s Protection Program and the Men’s Project, the Women’s center provides a space for students to talk.

Hall spoke more about his role as a Men’s Project facilitator.

“[At the Men’s Project] we have layered dialogue about not just domestic violence in the physical sense but also through the verbal, emotional and bystander prevention and how even folks who may not be directly contributing towards harm may allow harm to fester by observing and not doing anything to prevent,” Hall said. “Some of the stuff that we talk about within our program is to give people the words needed to be able to express [domestic violence.]”

Students can also come to the Women’s Center and talk to a trained staff member in confidence during their business hours from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hall also explained what role you can play as a friend to a person experiencing domestic violence.

“Although you cannot think on behalf of the person who’s being aggressed against you can check in especially doing so publicly in a way that will hold multiple parties accountable,” Hall said. “You can take the emphasis of whatever the engagement is off of the person who is being aggressed against. You can try to redirect both in terms of the dialogue itself but also in the place and locations.”

Hall also noted that you can refer the person experiencing domestic violence to a more trained and trusted individual like the staff at the Women’s Center or other resources like CMHS or OIE.

“You can refer to someone you can trust more to say hey I saw something here but I don’t necessarily know what to make of it. I don’t know what to do and in those cases you can call on someone who has experience with those issues,” Hall said.

Most importantly, Hall stressed not to force your own opinions upon the survivor, but rather to create a space where they can talk about their experiences in a way where you don’t pass judgement.

“I do think that being able to talk about these issues, not always from an accusatory perspective because that could make things worse for the person being aggressed against,” Hall said. “But creating a space in which folks can map these engagements out and hear back from others is always important.”

Hall offered one last piece of advice to survivors of domestic violence: “Just know that speak out when you’re ready although know that in this time people are ready for you is the only thing I can stress.”


Alexis Taylor is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexis.taylor@uconn.edu.