Community members will be showing solidarity with victims of domestic violence by banding together to raise awareness about a common struggle that is not commonly talked about. On Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. various student organizations and individuals are marching from Cumberland Quad to the Memorial Union, where a speaking event will take place.
The objective of this movement is to make it known to those suffering in silence that they are never alone and that there are several resources that can be turned to. The movement also hopes to amplify the voices of survivors willing to share their stories and, one day, end relationship abuse across the globe.
This event is hosted by the Maine Business School Corps (MBS), and Dr. Billy Obenauer is the faculty advisor with Nory Jones as supporting advisor. President of MBS Aidan Peters will be speaking at the event. He is a fourth-year business management student with a concentration in entrepreneurship. The following advocates will also deliver speeches: Dean Dana, Heather Hogan of Title IX, Dr. Obenauer, Aidan Peters and Amanda Cost of Partners for Peace.
Domestic violence can be described as a pattern of harmful or manipulative behavior by a household partner, although it looks different in every case. Generally speaking, it is a coercive methods used to gain power or control in an intimate relationship. According to the United Nations, it is important to recognize the signs of abuse and the upsetting truth that it can happen to any person in any situation.
“I define it myself as an action that is harmful towards another person, whether that’s physical or verbal. Both can do the same extent of damage to somebody,” said Peters.
There are many reasons to attend this march, mainly to show solidarity with victims. It also serves as a chance to connect with the community, specifically for first and second-year students who are seeking a place at UMaine. It is a wonderful opportunity to find your passion through allyship and potentially join one of the several clubs involved, such as the Feminist Collective (Fem-C).
Holding marches and protests such as this one is pivotal because many are not aware of the hundreds of individuals who are more than willing to listen or help, especially if the victim in question does not wish to formally report the crimes against them. Oftentimes, domestic abuse is swept under the rug under the surface-level assumption that those in committed relationships are automatically happy. Psychological abuse is frequently dismissed and can sometimes be difficult to recognize when it has steadily worsened throughout a long period.
“I feel like there are a lot of different avenues for those enduring assault to go to. A lot of people like to be discreet about it. A great way of letting someone know, especially if you live in the dorm halls, is talking to your RA about things that are going on, or you can always go to campus police,” said Peters.
In college, loneliness is an upsetting commonality. Those away from home who feel as though they do not have a trusted companion to turn to tend to keep trauma to themselves. Similarly, they could be holding back out of fear that their partner will retaliate in turn, which is why it is vital to look out for the signs.
Extending outreach to acquaintances or strangers who have become noticeably quieter or have distanced themselves could save lives. Even if those concerns are initially dismissed or they are in denial, everyone deserves to know that people out there are willing to validate their struggle once they are ready to share.
“In any battle that you ever go through in life, whether that’s addiction or assault, violence, just having someone you can talk to that makes you feel heard and makes you feel that you’re not alone is so important. I feel like that’s stressed, but it’s never stressed enough,” Peters said.
Peters worries that the message may have gotten lost last year among the communications in attendance. The organizations involved, such as Partners for Peace, Male Athletes Against Violence, Rape Response Services and ROTC intend to relay the possibilities for hope with complete clarity and to display proudly the purple ribbons which embody their fight for peace.
“We are trying to communicate one message and that message is: ‘our purpose is to show solidarity to the victims who endure domestic violence and to show them there are several resources they can use to get help. Those who suffer from domestic violence should never feel they are alone in their fight.’ That’s the message I want everyone to share and if there is one thing you can learn from going to this event, it’s that,” said Peters.
In terms of showing individual support pre- and post-march, the best thing to do is keep your eyes peeled for the signs, even if they appear insignificant. Extending outreach to those you know or those you do not could provide any person who experiences pain in their personal life with a pathway out of consistent harassment or mental anguish.
“If you don’t have anything going on Friday the 13th, come out. Bring a friend. Show these people that you care,” Peters said.
Attending the march is optional, but people are also encouraged to visit the Union to hear a phenomenal lineup of speakers. Even appearing for just one aspect of this event and wearing purple would be incredibly meaningful, and much can be learned about the cause.