Campus News

April 19, 2010

Raising awareness of domestic violence

The Clothesline Project displayed on the Quad.

Georgia ranks 15th in the nation for its rate at which men kill women in single-victim homicides, most of which are domestic violence murders, according to a new study conducted by the Violence Policy Center.

"Intimate partner violence is about one person getting and keeping power and control over another person in an intimate relationship," says physician Sheryl Heron, associate professor of emergency medicine, associate director for education at the Emory Center for Injury Control, and co-chair for the Intimate Partner Violence Working Group at Emory. "The abusive person could be a current or former spouse, live-in lover or dating partner. Intimate partner violence has been described as a pattern of behavior in which one intimate partner uses physical violence, coercion, threats, intimidation, isolation and emotional, sexual or economic abuse to control and change the behavior of the other partner," adds Heron, who attended the recent unveiling of the sixth annual Domestic Violence Fatality Review Report by the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Georgia Commission on Family Violence.

Against these sobering statistics were events for Sexual Assault Awareness Week at Emory April 8-12, including a performance by Emory Issues Troupe of  “Caught in a Bad Romance”; a film screening and discussion on “The Price of Pleasure:  Pornography, Sexuality & Relationships”; and The Clothesline Project, a visual display of shirts with graphic messages and illustrations, designed by survivors of violence or by those who love someone who has been a victim of violence.

The week ended with a planning session for Take Back the Night, open to students, faculty and staff. Aline Jesus Rafi, coordinator of Sexual Assault Prevention Education and Response in Student Health and Counseling Services, says a date has not yet been set but the event is usually held in October. She said there has been more interest from staff and faculty in being involved.

Regarding campus awareness of sexual assault and intimate partner violence, Rafi says her sense is “graduate students are usually more aware of the problem, but not necessarily the services offered on campus. Undergraduates are not as aware of either the problem or the services.”

The Faculty Staff Assistance Program, says Director Paula Gomes, has seen a significant increase in intimate partner violence cases during the last two years. “There seems to be a direct correlation with the national economic crisis and the increase in intimate partner violence cases due to significant family and relationship pressures for couples resulting in increased conflict.”

Gomes, who is also co-chair of Emory’s Intimate Partner Violence Working Group, adds, “The good news is that more individuals are seeking assistance through the FSAP and choosing not to suffer in silence.”

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