This semester, my nonprofit PR class is promoting domestic violence awareness and supporting the local shelter/outreach organization Safe Harbor. The students have been wonderful, throwing a lot of time, effort and energy into projects to promote awareness on campus and raise money. They arranged for purple ribbons to be on every Homecoming float and are hosting an on-campus education event at the end of the month. They are also updating materials to better reach high school students. They make me so proud.
In all my efforts to focus on PR and doing good, though, I seem to have forgotten the sheer enormity of the issue (1 in 4 women) and incredibly depressing and difficult stories it involves. Relationship violence is difficult to understand ("why would you hurt someone you love?") and to emphathize with ("why didn't she just leave?"), but it's even more difficult to hear about injuries, destroyed childhoods, deaths.
I want to commend these students and their new campus organization, Tigers for the Elimination of Campus Sexual Violence. I also want to commend them for approaching this issue of sexual power from all angles. They helped draw attention to an offensive article in the campus newspaper's sex and dating column. They are organizing a peaceful protest today. They are giving power and support to the powerless and hurt.
I'm glad my class is doing their good work, but as with anyone who has worked with a charity, it's also easy to get overwhelmed in how much more we should be doing. Sexual violence is pervasive. It is happening in your community. It has affected someone you know. Let's talk about it, share stories, raise funds, support others, listen, get help, be involved. If you don't know how to start, get educated. Please. Let's stop this.