SMCM Recognizes Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By: Lily Riesett

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, dedicated to raise awareness about the problem of domestic violence, encourage healthy relationships and to show solidarity to violence survivors. St. Mary’s in tandem with the Title IX Office has made it a priority to make sure this month is recognized by the campus community. 

Title IX Fellow Colette Nortman is one of the people in charge of planning and celebrating DVAM at St. Mary’s. “Nationally, we know that one in two trans and non-binary folks, one in three women, and nearly one in three men will experience an abusive relationship in their lifetime,” said Nortman. “In general, dating violence is an issue everywhere, including on college campuses like ours. On our campus, dating violence was the most frequent issue reported to the Title IX Office for the past three fall semesters in a row. While this may seem daunting, an uptick in the reporting of this issue can be a good thing since that means more people are able to recognize that they’ve experienced dating violence.”

This issue has been something Nortman and the rest of the Title IX Office has become very passionate about. “That’s why DVAM and our healthy relationship prevention activities are so important,” she says. “If folks recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship, they’re more likely to reach out for help if they have concerns about their own relationships. Being able to recognize the signs of an unhealthy relationship is also important because it improves our ability to intervene as active bystanders to help other members of our community. Additionally, our activities will help our community learn about cultivating healthy relationship behaviors in order to prevent dating violence from happening in the first place.”

The Title IX Office has planned many events to make students aware of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The school is celebrating “Purple Day” on Thursday, Oct. 21 to show solidarity with domestic violence survivors. Students are encouraged to wear purple, use the Title IX Office’s Snapchat filter and make epsom salt sachets at the campus center. Sports teams have also been asked to practice wearing purple in support of the event. The Title IX Office will be on the campus center patio all day with information on DVAM.

The Office has other events planned as well. From the 20 of October through the 22, students are being encouraged to run or walk a mile in honor of domestic violence survivors and post about it on their social media. This can be done by yourself or as a group, making this a perfect opportunity for sports teams to get involved. On Oct. 13, 20 and 27, the Title IX fellows will be tabling outside the campus center with information on Domestic Violence Awareness Month as well as free swag. 

To make a report of domestic violence or any other type of sexual violence, contact the Title IX Office by emailing Michael Dunn (mkdunn@smcm.edu) or Helen Ann Lawless (hlawless@smcm.edu); walk into Lucille Clifton House where the Title IX Office is located; or make an anonymous report online. You can also make a report to a mandatory reporter, like a faculty member or an RA, and they will relay that information to the Title IX Office. Finally, if there is an emergency or an immediate threat to someone’s safety, you are encouraged to call Public Safety (240-895-4195) or 911. 

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