UT students host events for Domestic Violence Awareness Month

Madeline Duncan, Senior News Reporter

CW: This column contains discussion of interpersonal and relationship violence. 

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and UT’s Voices Against Violence will host events and workshops all month to promote healthy relationships and provide student support.

Voices Against Violence is a department within the Counseling and Mental Health Center and an organization dedicated to supporting students who experienced or are experiencing relationship violence. The student org will host weekly events to bring awareness to preventing relationship violence during the month of October. 

According to Partnership Against Domestic Violence, “21% of college students report having experienced dating violence by a current partner, and 32% of college students report experiencing dating violence by a previous partner.”

Alpha Shrestha, an interpersonal violence prevention coordinator for UHS, said college students are at a higher risk of experiencing relationship violence. 

“There’s space for a lot of emotional abuse because (students are) coming out of a support system into college and trying to figure out their own support system,” Shrestha said. “Second of all, (students) are around a lot of places where (they) don’t know where resources are.”

Baneen Alqaraghuli, a Voices Against Violence officer, said one of the biggest misconceptions she dealt with as a student was not knowing it was okay to take a break to process traumatic events. 

Alqaraghuli said one of the biggest events this month is the “Breaking the Silence” event Oct. 27, which will provide food and drinks for students, as well as information regarding consent and resources available to students in need. There will also be an open mic for anyone who wants to share their story.

“It’s a space for people to come together and have the support and resources that they want,” said Alqaraghuli, an international relations and global studies junior. “It’s a fun event that also incorporates important information that students should know about as a way to help with spreading consent.”

Voices against Violence offers both relationship violence prevention — including informative workshops and sessions — and counseling and mental health services year-round.

“On the counseling and mental health side, our clinicians are available to provide individual crisis and group counseling,” said Katy Redd, associate prevention and development director for Healthy Horns. “We also provide a survivor’s emergency fund, so (to) any student who may have a financial need as a result of interpersonal violence that they’ve experienced, we can provide financial assistance for them.” 

Shrestha said the goal of the Voices Against Violence events this month is not only to create a culture of support and awareness for students who may be experiencing interpersonal violence, but also to promote bystander intervention for those who may witness it. 

Alqaraghuli said she hopes students see these events and know they aren’t alone in their experiences. 

“I think it’s important to inform students about these things, and let them know that there is help out there for them to seek, and that they don’t have to go through this situation alone,” Alqaraghuli said. “I had a period of time where I wasn’t given all the options when I would love to have been presented with them, so I think just being there, not pressuring people and providing the information is really important.”

Students in need of immediate support can contact the Counseling and Mental Health Center’s emergency line at (512) 471-2255.