By Tanner Adomaitis, Staff Writer
Originally Published October 18, 2023
Domestic Violence Awareness Month evolved from the creation of the Day of Unity following its first celebration in October 1987 in coincidence with the establishment of the first toll-free national domestic violence hotline. Two years later, in 1989, Congress passed a law designating October as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The day continues to be commemorated on the first Monday of October every year.
On this year’s Day of Unity, Monday, Oct. 2, around 200 students attended the screening of the documentary The Bystander Movement that tells the origin story of one of the most prominent prevention models of gender violence called the bystander approach. The bystander approach was headed by Jackson Katz and colleagues at Northeastern University in the 1990s. For those who still want to view the documentary but were unable to attend the screening, contact Dr. Eileen K. Flinn, Assistant Vice President of Institutional Advancement.
Flinn, a Saint Vincent College (SVC) alum, graduated from SVC with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and received her Juris Doctorate from Duquesne University School of Law in 1998. Dr. Flinn now serves as Saint Vincent’s Assistant Legal Counsel, designated Title IX Coordinator, and Principal Designated School Official for the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP) in the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS).
“Raising awareness of domestic violence is essential for prevention, support for victims, legal changes, community involvement, reducing stigma, education, early intervention, breaking the cycle, improving health outcomes, and fulfilling our societal responsibility to address this pressing issue,” Dr. Flinn said.
She emphasized that everyone should take an active role in combatting domestic violence. Flinn listed ways such as raising awareness through attending workshops and seminars, taking courses, reading books and articles, watching documentaries and films, engaging in discussions, volunteering, staying informed, supporting awareness campaigns, advocating change, and providing support.
“By engaging in these activities and educating themselves, college students can contribute to increasing awareness and understanding of domestic violence and play a role in preventing and addressing this issue within their communities,” Flinn said. “Remember that raising awareness is an ongoing process and change often takes time. By encouraging others to educate themselves about domestic violence, you can contribute to a safer and more informed community that is better equipped to prevent and address it.”
SVC community members can raise awareness right here on campus. There will be various events happening around campus, including weekly tables in the Carey Center on the 18, and 26 of October from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. At these tables, community members can pick up a purple ribbon or flameless purple candle to show support and learn more about preventing domestic violence as well as how to support those who may be experiencing or have experienced it.
On Oct.19, there will be a Mass of Remembrance at 12:05 p.m. in the Student Chapel to remember and honor those who have lost their lives to domestic violence. Additionally, Oct. 19 is Purple Thursday, where community members are encouraged to wear purple as part of this nationwide day to show support and raise awareness of domestic violence.
On Saturday, Oct. 21, SVC’s Women’s Ministry is hosting the Steps with Saint Dymphna 5K, a walk-through campus. The SVC Community is invited to join in this free event, which begins at 9 a.m. at the pavilion behind Rooney Hall. Participants will walk the campus to raise awareness for needed resources for the Blackburn Center located in Greensburg, PA, which provides resources, including a hotline to help victims of domestic, sexual, and other gender-based violence and crimes throughout Westmoreland County.
It is free to participate in the Steps with Saint Dymphna; however, if community members cannot attend, they may consider donating clothing, gift cards, and household items to the Blackburn Center to aid in their mission. There will be a collection bin for donations near the starting area of the 5K on the fitness trail.