By Sequoia Sinclair | Staff Writer
The Augusta University Teardrop lit up with purple lights on Oct. 5 at 6:30 p.m., in honor of October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
Dr. Allison Foley, an associate professor in sociology, hosted the Fifth Annual Purple Light Nights with four panelists that spoke about pressing concerns in regards to intimate partner violence.
While the history of the Purple Light Nights panel is usually informative, one panelist shared her survivor story. Dr. Meredith Rausch, a professor in the department of counselor education, leadership and research, discussed the conventions of emotional abuse.
“Intimate partner violence is often associated with physical abuse, but in many cases, that is not true,” said Rausch. “My partner humiliated me in public, isolated me from the people I loved and accused me of everything wrong in his life. He took away my autonomy.”
The story encapsulates the reality of intimate partner violence.
“These types of relationships may not break bones, but they break spirits,” Rausch said. “Through counseling, I evaded the trauma of emotional abuse. Working therapy is the road to self-rediscovery and healing. It is very difficult but worth it in the end.”
In agreement, the panelists urged their audience to find and tell a trusted friend, family member, faculty or staff, if someone is experiencing intimate partner abuse. Be the ear and support for those who may be in a dangerous situation.
Yasmin Thomas Goodman, a veteran SafeHomes legal advocate, spoke about options people have when leaving a dangerous relationship.
“Intimate partner abusers wear many hats,” Goodman said. “It is financial as well as emotional, social, isolation, sexual, and physical.”
Goodman defined domestic violence as “a pattern of cohesive and controlling behavior and tactics used by one person over another to gain power and control over that person.”
How can someone safely leave an abusive relationship?
“A safety plan,” Goodman said. “Advocates will brainstorm scenarios or situations in which the victim evacuates. It is important that the victim grabs certain documents such as their ID and social security. Do not allow the offending to have access to such documents to control you. Call SafeHomes, they will provide services that cater to different domestic violence situations.”
Catherine Patrizio, sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) at University Hospital, explained to viewers about handling sexual assault.
“When someone discloses that they were sexually assaulted the hospital will take the victim to a room and ask them to disclose the details,” said Patrizio. “There will be a doctor, a nurse, a Rape Crisis Sexual Assault Advocate, and the police will be called to listen to the statement—so the victim does not have to state it more than once. The hospital will ensure that confidentiality is respected and legally have to oblige. It is the victim’s choice in how they chose to go forth with the examination.”
Patrizio added that sexual assault is not only done by a stranger.
“The fact is that 75% is actually done by someone [the victim] knows,” Patrizio said.
Michele Reed, the new Title IX coordinator discussed what Augusta University does for students in the event of an intimate partner dilemma.
“I guide students through the process once he or she may have disclosed abuse or harassment,” Reed said. “I can refer students or employees in the right direction. I also empower them to make the decision that is right for them at the time. If a student or employee wants to pursue through Title IX, it is a civil process not a criminal one.”
Reed said if a student disclosed the experienced intimate partner violence but do not want to pursue a criminal investigation, she can implement an order of no contact or modify classes to create a safe environment for all personnel involved.
Purple Light Nights on Oct. 5 was the kickoff for other events in Domestic Violence Awareness Month in order to raise awareness on the resources that Augusta has for those experiencing intimate partner violence.
When asked why it is important to host events like Purple Light Nights, Dr. Alison Foley said that it is “to empower people with knowledge, to honor those no longer with us because of domestic violence and to celebrate survivors.”
Contact Sequoia Sinclair at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published on November 7, 2016 in Vol. 59, Issue 2 of The Bell Ringer newspaper.