Every minute, 24 people become victims of rape, physical violence or stalking, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey. A large portion of those victims either attend or are employed by universities.
In regard to Domestic and Dating Violence Awareness Month the Women’s Center is hosting its annual interactive walk-through exhibit, Crazy in Love.
The exhibit is open from noon until 4 p.m. Monday, and from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday, the exhibit is open 9 a.m.-1 p.m. in the Curris Center ballroom.
“I think it gives students a tangible way to look at an issue that is not out in the open and doesn’t have a lot of light shed on it,” said Stephanie Smith, senior student worker at the Women’s Center. “It gives you a base to look at and think, do you see this in your relationship or someone you’re close to.”
Abigail French, director of the Women’s Center, said the exhibit includes five different rooms emulating the different stages of domestic violence in a relationship. The rooms have a bed, a desk and other common bedroom items. It also includes a video journal, narrating a young woman’s relationship with her partner.
“You get to see what she’s writing in her diary and how the focus of the couple shifts from being friends and being social to very demanding and very strict and structured,” French said. “It’s a very interactive-type thing. You see that relationship develop from what would seem like a normal relationship into a very unhealthy relationship. You get to see that cycle of violence.”
French said the purpose of the exhibit is to educate college students about how to spot early signs of domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault in a relationship.
“They (students who walk through the exhibit) see things like this person being isolated from their friends. They see things like those ‘I’m sorry’ flowers and cancelled plans and different things that make participants aware of some of those warning signs,” French said.
It’s obvious to see a problem in a relationship when two people are arguing, but the subtle signs are more difficult to identify, French said. She said environmental and nonverbal clues are what students need to be aware of so potential dating and domestic violence can be prevented.
When in a circumstance with domestic or dating violence, one should talk to the victim and make them aware of the facts of the situation.
Skylar Oakley, junior student worker at the Women’s Center, said talking should be the first step, but there’s only so much a friend or family member can do to help.
“You can confront them and talk to them but you can’t change anything,” Oakley said. “Another reason we do this event is so victims can start to think about, ‘has that happened to me?’”
Compared to other universities, French said Murray State is no better or worse than the majority of college campuses in the U.S. However, the problem is victims reporting these acts.
French said many victims are afraid to come forward and tell someone about the issues they are facing with their partner because of the consequences that may ensue within the relationship. Therefore, it is important for friends and families to be educated about the signs so they can recognize when a loved one may be in a violent relationship.
“Interpersonal violence is extremely under-reported,” French said. “Especially with dating and domestic violence, there could be some very severe consequences if that partner found out that you talked to a counselor or an advocate or the police, so there’s a lot of fear about reporting.”
Even if it isn’t being reported, that does not mean it is not happening, French said.
“If we can make you aware right here of these things that are unhealthy, then that can keep you from ever getting to the point where it’s extremely dangerous,” French said.
Story by Madison Wepfer, Staff writer