Awareness, education key to ending domestic violence

Editorial Board

We’ve heard some horrifying stories about students who find themselves homeless after fleeing partners who beat them; about classmates who can’t study in their own homes because of violence between their parents; about college-age peers who are scared of family members because of a history of hitting, pushing or punching.

October was officially Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but for victims of these often-unreported crimes, we need to pay attention to the matter year-round. Even on a college campus, where most of us are fairly young, a victim could be sitting next to us in class, standing in line behind us at lunch or hurrying past us on the Quad.

In fact, of the staggering average of 10 million people who suffer from some form of violence from an intimate partner, women ages 16 to 24 are most likely to be victimized, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Almost every school hosts on its website instructions for how to report an issue and where to go for help. And many colleges also promote support groups, victim advocates and no-cost counseling.

AACC’s website includes information about how to report sexual harassment and assault, and the college encourages students to contact counseling services.

But while AACC’s efforts are needed and appreciated, they are not enough.

Victims of domestic violence need more than protective policies and access to resources. They need to feel safe and supported in all phases of their recoveries, because there are often lasting impacts on students’ health, education and employment.

Efforts at AACC must educate students, faculty and staff about the prevalence and warning signs of potential or ongoing dangerous situations.

Authorities must ensure personnel and procedures are empathetic to the ordeals and emotions of victims.

Schools must maintain close partnerships with victim advocacy organizations so students have access to the medical, legal, family and mental health help they need.

And finally, all involved must place an emphasis on understanding. What helps one person may not help another.

As a community, we must continue to work toward a society where these types of crimes never occur. But until that point, we need to support those experiencing domestic violence and its fallout.