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Events raise awareness about domestic violence


In honor of domestic violence awareness month, on-campus and local groups have organized fundraisers, education outreach and other events throughout October to educate the public and promote domestic violence awareness and prevention. 

Alpha Chi Omega hosted a "Love Shouldn't Hurt" resource fair Oct. 12, when representatives from Women's Center of Rhode Island, Sojourner House, the Sexual Assault Task Force, the LGBTQ Resource Center and Sexual Assault Peer Education group offered pamphlets and other information about their services and advocacy efforts. 

"Domestic violence awareness and prevention is the sorority's main philanthropy," said Noelle Spencer '14, assistant vice president of philanthropy for Alpha Chi Omega, noting that the group holds events every October in honor of domestic violence awareness month. The aim of the most recent event, she said, was "all around just to help bring attention to the campus." 

The sorority will also hold a luminary event on the Pembroke green Oct. 26.

SAPE will host "Speak About It," an on-campus performance about consent, boundaries and healthy relationships Oct. 30. In the show, a group of actors and peer educators shares a series of true stories from college students about a range of personal experiences, addressing issues like abstinence and consent. 

Fifteen members of the Rhode Island group Sisters Overcoming Abusive Relationships, or SOAR, will perform an original play entitled "Behind Closed Doors" Oct. 29 at the Trinity Repertory Company. In the show, which is already sold out, women will share their stories of survival in hopes of inspiring action and promoting understanding about the nature of abuse, said Reza Clifton, communications coordinator at the coalition. The proceeds from the show will be donated to the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

SOAR is one of the member agencies of the coalition, which also includes Blackstone Valley Advocacy Center, Sojourner House and the Women's Center of Rhode Island. The coalition has organized numerous events of its own this month and embarked on a public awareness campaign that includes bus ads, television and radio commercials, newspaper advertising, posters, pamphlets and palm cards. 

The coalition officially launched a Rhode Island chapter of the "No More" campaign - a national movement that aims to bring together organizations and individuals who want to end domestic violence and sexual assault - to kick off the month. In its message of unity, the campaign has adopted its own symbol: a teal-colored disk meant to demonstrate the universality of the movement. 

"The new symbol for the 'No More' campaign is designed to show the unification of the two movements - against domestic violence and sexual assault- and to be recognizable in the same way as the pink ribbon for breast cancer," Clifton said.

"We're particularly excited about this campaign," DeBare said. "It's the first time there has ever been a national branding effort to bring broader awareness to this issue." 

DeBare noted that the 16-24 age group is at the greatest risk for domestic violence, so the group focuses much of its educational outreach at colleges.

Data from the National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence show that rape is the most underreported crime in America, with only 16 percent of women notifying law enforcement officials of their assaults. This percentage is even lower among college students - less than 5 percent report their rapes or attempted rapes, while 20 to 25 percent of college-age women will be victims of rape or attempted rape during their college career. 

Men are also victims of sexual violence, the center reports, estimating that one in 33 men will be the victim of a completed or attempted rape during his lifetime. 

Information is key to preventing abuse, said Bita Shooshani, coordinator of sexual assault prevention and advocacy at Health Services.


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