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Wednesday, Dec. 17, 10:39 a.m.
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Relationship violence prevalent among college students

Awareness Week focuses on preventing domestic abuse

Jennifer Gundersen

Staff Reporter

One in three women around the world will be abused during her lifetime. October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, dedicated to making this statistic history. This week, men and women at the University of Maine are pledging to end relationship violence by tracing and then decorating their hands on posters, as a part of the Hands are Not for Hitting Campaign.

“This is a way for men and women to become involved in the issue of domestic violence,” Krista Marston, a senior psychology major, said after she drew her hand. “If we pledge not to abuse, it will set an example for others.”

Hands Are Not for Hitting is a pledge to not use your hands, body or words to commit or condone dating violence. It is one of the activities sponsored by the Safe Campus Project as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The Safe Campus Project is providing information about domestic violence and handing out purple ribbons all this week in Memorial Union from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will also be sponsoring various events throughout the month.

“We are hoping people will become aware that abuse does not only happen in traditional, nuclear families,” Hillary Maher, and graduate assistant for the Safe Campus Project, said. “It happens when people are dating and it happens on this campus.”

Lisa Black, a graduate assistant of the Safe Campus Project, said women between the ages of 16 and 24 have the highest rates of relationship violence and 76 percent of all women report they have been raped or physically assaulted since the age of 18.

“Our perception on campus is that this does not happen to college students, but it does and is very prevalent,” Black said.

As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Clothesline Project, a collection of T-shirts honoring those affected by relationship violence, will be displayed on the mall on Thursday, October 18.

“The Clothesline Project is a healing process,” Maher said. “It is a way for survivors to channel their energy and for families of victims to show their love and support.”

Bangor’s Spruce Run donated its collection of over 100 shirts for the display and people will also be given the opportunity to create their own shirt to add to the collection.

“The hardest part is hanging up the shirts,” Maher said. “It is very emotional to see one after another of these cases.”

Highlighting the months activities is a candlelight vigil at the Steam Plant parking lot on Tuesday, October 30. The vigil will include the opportunity to speak out and a visual display of community support as candles float down the Stillwater River.

A Brown Bag lunch, a lecture and a video series concerning relationship violence and images of woman are also aimed at educating students about abuse this month.

The Safe Campus Project’s mission is to strengthen victim advocacy, enhance prevention and education, and improve outreach to diverse student groups in anti-violence against women efforts.

“We try to focus on the underlying causes instead of a band-aid approach,” Summer Sunderland, a graduate assistant for the program, said. “We focus on education and awareness.

The University of Maine was one of 16 schools awarded a $300,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justices Violence Against Women Office last November to set up the project. The grants objectives include prevention, outreach and offender accountability for relationship violence, sexual assault, and stalking.

The group is also involved with the Take Back the Night march in the spring and Men Can Stop Rape.

For information on this month’s events call 581-2515.