UMKC students gather for an open discussion on domestic violence

T-shirts hung up to spread awareness against domestic violence in the Royal parking garage skywalk.

Yusra Azzeh

1 in 10 women have been raped by an intimate partner.

This statistic, presented at a Resources, Intervention, Support and Education (RISE) event, is what characterized the need for Domestic Violence Awareness Month in October.

RISE used last month as an opportunity to invite students to participate in the Clothesline Project. This project, spanning the length of the Rockhill Garage walkway, encouraged students to discuss unhealthy and abusive relationships by expressing their experiences in the form of t-shirts.

Outreach and Prevention Coordinator Maya Burtin also helped plan an event to educate students on the history of domestic violence. The session, titled “Domestic Violence 101,” also taught students the ways they can identify domestic violence and prevent it.

The event, which took place on Oct. 27 in Pierson Auditorium, was very interactive. Many students voiced their thoughts and asked questions about important subjects, such as domestic violence in low-income communities.

“Poor women don’t want to report abuse because they don’t want to be victim-blamed,” said biology freshman Sam Justice. “And it doesn’t always have to be women.”

At the event, RISE peer educator Brianna Green led discussions around what healthy and unhealthy relationships look like for everyone, regardless of financial status. Event coordinators provided several handouts, which highlighted key characteristics of healthy, unhealthy and abusive relationships. 

The peer educators kept discussions going by giving personal examples and asking follow-up questions to students’ answers. 

“I dated people who showed red flags, but I thought I was crazy,” Green said about her own experiences. 

The conversation also included some discussion on how to be safe when your partner is abusive. Students shared ideas about how to provide safe environments for members of the UMKC community who are in these situations.

“We should have specific safe places on campus where people can stay until they figure out a plan,” said biology sophomore Sasha Dellenbaugh. 

Right now, students can go to the RISE office, located in Haag 108, for confidential support services regarding sexual assault, stalking, gender-based violence, relationship abuse and sexual harassment. RISE also offers support services for the friends and families of victims and survivors. 

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