The systematic oppression in lecture on ‘Intimate Partner Violence’ 

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Elliot Ruggles speaks at the Rainbow Center about intimate partner violence. This event is part of the Rainbow Center's Out to Lunch lecture series.  Photo by Brandon Barzola / The Daily Campus

Elliot Ruggles speaks at the Rainbow Center about intimate partner violence. This event is part of the Rainbow Center’s Out to Lunch lecture series. Photo by Brandon Barzola / The Daily Campus

Part of the weekly ‘Out to Lunch’ at the Rainbow Center  

“The systems were created by people over time and can be dismantled by people over time,” said Elliot Ruggles, who presented this week’s Out to Lunch Gender, Sexuality, and Community series lecture on intimate partner violence. The lecture was held Thursday afternoon in the Rainbow Center.   

Ruggles is described as “a fierce advocate for queer and trans people, strives for anti-racist practice and believes that liberation from oppression is the key to ending violence.” He has a PhD in Human Sexuality Studies and a Master’s in Social Work from Widener University and is currently the Sexual Harassment and Assault Resources and Education (SHARE) Advocate at Brown University. 

Gender-based, sexual and relationship violence are intimately tied to the patriarchy, among other systemic forms of oppression, according to the lecture page. Systematic oppression comes from the exploitation of power, Ruggles said.  

Ruggles began the talk by explaining that someone experiencing this type of violence may feel overwhelmed. The feelings come from oppression, Ruggles continued, citing that privilege is often unearned and unasked for.  

“The cultural values in the water are unsaid,” Ruggles said. Specifically, microaggressions are a part of these cultural values. Ruggles himself said he was raised to avoid conflict in his home state of Massachusetts. 

Ruggles defined partner abuse as a “systematic pattern of behaviors” where one person uses their power to control the thoughts and actions of another person. Expanding on this, the idea of feeling disconnected from reality is also related. The cycle of abuse comes in four subparts: the tension building phase, the ultimate climax phase of conflict, the apology phase and then the honeymoon phase, which is the root of why a partner would stay in a relationship. All these are repeated patterns over time, Ruggles said.  

He also went on to establish power and entitlement in the systemic operations that are related to oppression.  

“This country is founded in racism and white supremacy,” Ruggles said, referring again to the system that is set up in Western society.  

Ruggles went into the history of movements in the ‘60s and ‘70s, and included the current #MeToo movement. Why were people such as Harvey Weinstein allowed to behave in the way that he did for almost a decade? The system was complicit in the harm that was happening, Ruggles affirmed.  

Community accountability matters, and Ruggles posed two questions to have those in attendance discuss with those around them: What are practices of accountability you have noticed within your communities and what accountability practices do you wish happened more? 

Not everyone gets the same treatment, Lindsey Innaimo said, a seventh-semester communication major who attended the lecture as part of the course. Although there are differences between different communities, there are also some parallels, Innaimo said. However, Innaimo agreed that there were not enough support systems in place.  

Director Kelsey O’Neil of the Rainbow Center believes that this topic is relevant as “gender-based violence impacts students at a high rate.” 

It’s important for students to attend these lectures to learn about resources and support, as well as practices towards some form of resolution within the community, they said.  


Kimberly Nguyen is the digital editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at kimberly.nguyen@uconn.edu.

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