In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Women Helping Women (WHW) – a social justice agency dedicated to combating gender-based violence around Cincinnati – at the University of Cincinnati (UC) is hosting a series of events dedicated to raising awareness and letting survivors of domestic violence know they are not alone.
Zoe Miller, the campus advocate for WHW at UC, explained that one in four women and one in nine men have experienced some form of intimate partner physical violence, sexual violence or stalking. Of those numbers, individuals between 18 to 24 are at the highest risk of being abused by an intimate partner. Bringing awareness to a college campus is an essential step in offering aid and solidarity to survivors.
As part of their ongoing series of events, WHW is hosting the Purple Walk on Oct. 22, at 5:30 p.m. They invite the UC community to show up in purple and walk a mile around UC's campus. The walk will begin at Mews Garden by the Steger Student Life Center.
"The goal is to have as many UC community members as possible show up in Purple and walk a mile around UC's campus to show that we do not stand for Domestic Violence and we are coming together to show support for those affected," said Miller. "After the walk, we will end with a Candlelight Vigil."
The purpose of the mile is to be a time of reflection for participants. The mile allows for quiet acknowledgment and shows a strong sense of visual solidarity for commitment to ending this social justice issue. At the Candlelight Vigil, participants will have a moment of silence followed by a poetry reading. Survivors of domestic violence will then have the opportunity to speak out and share their stories.
"Events like these are meant to be healing, and if a part of one's healing is sharing out to a group of supportive people, we want to provide that environment for them to do so without fear of anything resulting from it," said Miller.
In addition to this walk, WHW has been hosting an ongoing series of events related to domestic violence awareness. These events include their "In Reel Life," where a film will be shown with a discussion about ways the film normalizes problematic gender-based violence behaviors. Other events are the "Wake Up Bearcats'' where WHW provides coffee to students and helps students identify healthy versus unhealthy behaviors in a relationship.
Miller stresses that the most significant way to combat gender-based violence on a college campus is to educate students on how to identify it and provide a safe space to go to receive help once it has been identified. Her role as a campus advocate is to take the beliefs of WHW and tailor them to UC's campus.
Through these events, Miller hopes students learn that domestic violence doesn't just happen in its own sphere, and there are ways the outside community can come together to combat this. She encourages anyone who may be struggling to come to her office at 559 Steger Life Center or use the WHW website to find resources. Though their name says the word women, Miller stresses they can help anyone who needs it.
"We serve all people regardless of gender identity, anyone can be affected by gender-based violence and we are here for everyone," said Miller.
Miller hopes that a large number of UC's community shows up for this walk. The impact of everyone coming together over a prevalent issue is one that is difficult to ignore. Domestic violence awareness isn't something that should only be happening for one month of the year. WHW makes an effort year-round to continue to show the UC community they have a safe place to go should they ever need it.
"We will support [the community] to bring safety back to their emotional, mental, and physical well-being," said Miller.