October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Voices Against Violence — a program run by the UT Counseling and Mental Health Center — is partnering with other student organizations to heighten awareness of dating violence.
At the “Blurred Lines” event Tuesday, hosted by Sigma Lambda Gamma sorority, speakers from Voices Against Violence and Travis County Counseling and Education Services discussed the prevalence of domestic abuse among young people in relationships.
Gretta Gardner, family violence director for the Travis County Counseling and Education Services, said there is no clear definition of domestic violence.
“There is no prototype; it depends solely on the individual who is experiencing it,” Gardner said.
Erin Burrows, health education coordinator for Voices Against Violence, said gender stereotypes often keep men from reaching out for help.
“While women experience domestic violence at a higher rate, an astronomical number of men experience it too, and that’s rarely talked about,” Burrows said.
Chelsea Tijerina, undergraduates studies senior and vice president of marketing for Sigma Lambda Gamma, said she thinks relationship violence awareness is especially important for college students.
“We wanted to do this event to release the tension and give a voice to those who maybe have experienced abuse or know someone who has experienced it, or even those who just feel passionate about it,” Tijerina said. “A lot of students who first come to college just feel kind of lost, and I feel like too many of them are unaware of the dangers of abuse.”
Burrows said Voices Against Violence has hosted events every October on the UT campus for about 10 years, but the tone has changed this year.
“This year we have shifted quite a bit to focus on solutions, as well as what it looks like to prevent dating violence,” Burrows said. “We are trying to put a spotlight on the value of healthy relationships and trying to get everyone in relationships to think about how we are treating each other.”
Other Domestic Violence Awareness Month events include “Breaking the Silence Speak-Out” on Oct. 17, “Crime After Crime” on Oct. 22 and the “Young Women’s Day of Action” luncheon on Oct. 30.