Throughout October, Binghamton University is participating in a national campaign to raise awareness of and help prevent domestic violence.
Bonnie Hanna, a University Police Department (UPD) officer, said that reports of domestic violence at BU and in the surrounding area are increasing annually. However, many individuals are reluctant to disclose incidents and, therefore, the numbers may be even higher than their records show.
“Students are reluctant to report domestic violence cases, they often feel embarrassed and guilty, and are nervous their parents might find out,” Hanna said. “But domestic violence is not the victim’s fault and by law, UPD is not permitted to notify parents.”
According to Hanna, many students are unaware of what qualifies as domestic violence. She said students don’t know that the term encompasses verbal abuse and harassment, and that New York recently categorized roommate abuse as domestic violence.
“IVP’s [office of Interpersonal Violence Prevention] goal is to promote a conversation about domestic violence,” said Jean Krebs, a junior double-majoring in women, gender and sexuality studies and philosophy, politics and law. “Unfortunately, domestic violence goes underreported. This is because many men and women don’t know that what’s happening to them is considered domestic violence.”
The organization’s workshops, which have been conducted during student orientation and RA training, teach attendees about domestic violence: how to identify it and how to handle incidents. They aim to make students aware of the resources available and to help empower them to confront and report situations if necessary.
Throughout October, IVP is running a campaign called “Painting the Town Purple.” Organizers are asking local businesses and residents to wear the color purple, which is symbolic of domestic violence awareness nationwide. On Oct. 15, all students are encouraged to wear purple in honor of victims of domestic violence and to encourage prevention.
“It’s important for students to understand domestic violence and how prevalent it is both here on campus and outside of campus,” said Cody Khorsandi, an undeclared sophomore. “I think the activities that IVP is holding are a fun way to get students involved and educate them on this topic.”
The White House also has an online pledge that students can sign to spread awareness about domestic violence. BU students who sign this pledge can add their finger print to a banner that IVP will hang in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
UPD offers a Rape Aggression Defense Program. These workshops, taught by UPD officers, teach self-defense to women on campus.
“Anywhere from five to seven University Police officers will come and teach groups of women self-defense,” Hanna said. “It tends to be a lot of fun.”
Jessica Krohn, the IVP coordinator, said that students need to be aware of their instincts and be proactive to stay safe.
“When your gut’s telling you something funky, go with your gut,” Krohn said. “And if you’re worried about a friend, don’t abandon them, help them.”