RSVP center provides confidential assistance to students

By Isabel Lohman, 23 News Reporter

The Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center observed Relationship Violence Awareness Month throughout October by hosting educational events.

Domestic violence is the “willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another,” according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. This violence may be physical, sexual, psychological, emotional or some combination of the above. The frequency of violence varies throughout different communities and across the country.

More than one in three women and one in four men have been victims of some form of rape, stalking or physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey 2010 Summary Report.

The RSVP Center chose to call the month “Relationship and Sexual Violence Awareness Month” instead of “Domestic Violence Awareness Month” because of existing stigmas within our community.

“Domestic violence is relationship violence and vice versa. However, many times when we think of domestic violence, we think of a married couple, in a home; perhaps children are involved. This very stereotypical view of family violence,” Kim Scates, the education coordinator of the RSVP Center, said. “So we want to use a term that students can relate to in order to assist in that processing of what’s going in their own relationships.”

In order to combat that impression, the RSVP Center held a discussion series on Wednesdays in October to better educate the MU Community. As the education coordinator, Scates tried to pick discussion topics that would “bring more voices into the conversation.”

The first discussion was about relationship violence within the LGBTQ community. The second discussion focused on how women of color are specifically affected by relationship violence. Scates explained that this was done because “the physical trauma and verbal trauma are also compounded with racial trauma” within this group of people.

Scates encouraged allies of those who have been abused to “listen to them and to believe them”. People often try to challenge survivors’ stories instead of supporting them and telling them about available resources, Scates said. On campus, there are several resources for students including the RSVP Center, the MU Counseling Center, and the Student Health Center. In Boone County, the True North Shelter serves as a safe place for survivors of domestic violence. Additionally, students can always call The National Domestic Violence Hotline at  1-800-799-7233  for anonymous, confidential help.

Regardless of the month, Scates hopes the conversation continues.

Edited by Aviva Okeson-Haberman | arodn9@mail.missouri.edu

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