There’s a problem that plagues a lot of campuses across the nation and around the globe. It’s not an issue of low quality of food in the cafeteria, but something much more serious: violence – specifically date rape.
Although there is a movement composed of several organizations and initiatives against this wrongdoing, date rape and other forms of domestic violence persist. It’s essential communities start and continue to fight this evil that can happen to anyone.
I decided to write about this issue in light of Dominican’s Domestic Abuse Stops Here group’s events this past weekend – a demonstration and a walk that honored the memory of a River Forest woman who lost her life as a result of domestic violence – the experiences of people I love and a book I’ve been reading lately: The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker.
De Becker designed the MOSAIC Threat Assessment Systems, which is used to help discern whether government officials are at risk. He is also a Senior Fellow at UCLA’s school of public policy.
This book, which became a national bestseller, is about understanding how to protect one’s self from violence. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has experienced violence or who understands the chances he or she will experience violence aren’t exactly low, particularly if he or she ignores signals that come from true fear.
The writer recommends people ask more questions about the people whom they hire, such as babysitters. There are several “survival signals,” de Becker writes, which criminals try to cover up; they include “forced teaming;” using too many details; “typecasting,” which is when someone labels the victim something that the victim may try to disprove; and ignoring the word “no.” It’s better to risk coming off rude than to risk safety, he writes; don’t be afraid to say no, and be firm when you say no.
Lowering violence is something that should be a community effort as well. People, especially victims of violence, need to know they are not alone in their pain. The stigma a rape victim often experiences needs to be eased by a community that refuses to be tolerant of violence and is supportive of victims and their loved ones who are also hurt when a person chooses to injure another.
Friends of victims don’t necessarily need to avoid talking about the subject, but it’s essential that they allow and encourage the victim to speak and be sensitive about the issue. Jokes about rape, for example, are extremely inappropriate because the situation should not be taken lightly.
One step I would really like more campuses, including Dominican, to take is to have a crisis therapist available on weekends so that students don’t have to wait until Monday morning to get their needs addressed. In the meantime, there are free, confidential 24-hour hotlines such as 1.800.656.HOPE, of the National Sexual Assault Hotline. Visit RAINN.org for more information.
I hope you all stay safe.