Every single minute, up to twenty individuals in the United States may be abused by an intimate partner. That amounts to a staggering ten million victims of domestic violence each year. And many of these innocent people may not survive their abuse. Here, in the state of New York, domestic violence is legally defined as “a pattern of coercive tactics, which can include physical, psychological, sexual, economic and emotional abuse, perpetrated by one person against an adult intimate partner, with the goal of establishing and maintaining power and control over the victim.” The reality of domestic violence or abuse is one endured by people in all walks of life, in various forms and capacities. Each story matters, and each deserves acknowledgment and remembrance. And each victim deserves help.
Since 1987, October has been officially recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time during which we should mourn those who have died because of domestic violence, celebrate those who have survived, and connect with those who work to end it. Since its establishment, this movement has steadily gained momentum, helping to educate, heal, and catalyze deeply important discussion. Here at Colgate, The Network, a COVE team dedicated to supporting survivors of interpersonal violence and sexual assault, has sponsored two events to highlight the issues of domestic violence during this crucial month. The student group also put up a powerful statistical display on the quad to promote awareness.
On October 16, The Network invited Jennifer K. Enriquez, a public health educator and survivor, to campus. She shared her own unique story of interpersonal violence as both a child and an adult, and she began a conversation regarding abuse of all kinds, from sexual to physical to psychological to economic. Ms. Henriquez encouraged students and faculty to think critically about domestic violence, its roots, its victims, and its horrifying repercussions. And this meaningful, albeit difficult, dialogue should not be forgotten any time soon.
In light of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, perhaps the most important role that members of the Colgate community can play is that of the advocate. The advocate for safe and healthy relationships. The advocate for victim support in every form. The advocate for rightful prosecution and punishment of abusers. The advocate for learning and for listening and for dialogue. No single individual or team has the means or the power to put an end to the atrocious phenomenon that is domestic violence. But we all have the capacity to mourn, celebrate, connect, and advocate.
By Rebecca O’Neill