The prevalence of relationship violence among students on North Carolina campuses is staggering. The extent of the problem can make you feel helpless. Luckily, we all have the power to change the culture on campuses for the better.
When people are being traumatized, there is no time for standing silently by. We all have a responsibility to act. If you don’t speak up, there’s no guarantee anyone else will. So, how can you help?
Engage in Campus Activism
To make students, faculty, and administrators on your campus aware of the problem, sometimes it requires a visible direct action. Whether it’s a march, a protest, a symbolic initiative, or any other number of possibilities, if they see that a group of students are passionate about the cause, they’ll be more motivated to address the systemic problems in school policy.
Be Present for Your Friends
You may have friends that have been abused by a current or former partner. In fact, based on statistics, it is likely that you do. There are ways to make yourself available to them as a safe person that can be relied on in those situations. You can listen to their experience, share resources, and support them in whatever they decide to do.
You can also refer them to loveisrespect.org for more information on dating violence and how it shows up in relationships between young people.
Get Trained as a Volunteer with a Local Agency
It can be difficult, though, to know exactly how to help a friend. If you aren’t comfortable jumping right in, there are local training programs for volunteers throughout the state. These programs can train you to volunteer with those who have been in abusive relationships, on campus and off. Every corner of the state has an organization devoted to preventing and responding to relationship violence. It is also good to know the contact information for your local service provider in case you or someone else needs it.
Actively Challenge Rape Culture
A culture that is tolerant of violence is thriving on campuses across North Carolina. Those perpetuating it may not even be aware that they are part of the problem, so intervening in safe and assertive ways to prevent relationship violence is everyone’s responsibility.
And it’s not just a job for women on campus – people of all genders are a critical part of challenging toxic campus culture! Groups like Futures Without Violence have programs to specifically target men and boys as allies. Educating everyone can help prevent harmful behaviors and attitudes that make the campus an unsafe place for many.
There are many more things you can do, but most importantly, be present. Be present with activism in the campus quad to show the administration the issue is important. Be present to those experiencing violence when they need someone to listen or rely on. And be present in your community if one of the shelters need volunteers. We can break this cycle, but not without your help.