Women’s Services and Resources teaches students to be ‘voices of courage’

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BYU Women’s Services and Resources held its annual Voices of Courage campaign this week to raise awareness of domestic violence and teach students to be engaged bystanders — or voices of courage.

The week-long Voices of Courage campaign showed students how to be allies to domestic violence survivors and create a culture of non-violence. The Women’s Services office presented its annual Awareness Gallery of statistics about domestic violence from Oct. 19 to Oct. 23.

BYU Women’s Services and Resources hosted its annual Voices of Courage campaign to raise awareness of domestic violence. The Awareness Gallery at the office shared facts and statistics about domestic violence for students to view. (Hannah Miner)

Students who participated in the campaign received a Voices of Courage T-shirt.

The office handed out Voices of Courage T-shirts to anyone who participated in the campaign. (Hannah Miner)

“The goal of the Voices of Courage Campaign is to engage both women and men as allies in creating a culture of respect and non-violence in our community where we are all engaged bystanders and voices of courage,” Women’s Services and Resources Director Dixie Sevison said. 

Program coordinator Eliza Lahti said survivors of domestic violence can be voices of courage by sharing their stories. Bystanders can do this by standing up for survivors, starting conversations and spreading awareness. 

The statistics in the Awareness Gallery reflected just how common domestic violence is. “A woman is assaulted or beaten in the United States every nine seconds,” one poster read.

These are some of the domestic violence statistics at the Women’s Services and Resources Awareness Gallery. (Hannah Miner)

The gallery also included a list of forms of domestic violence. The violence could be physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, spiritual, financial or digital. 

These are some more domestic violence statistics in the Awareness Gallery. (Hannah Miner)

“On Utah college campuses, 90% of survivors are sexually assaulted by someone they knew,” another sign read. Lahti said this statistic stood out to her the most.

“I think it’s really important because there are friends and people around us who have experienced this,” she said, adding that it’s important to be aware of the warning signs. “Be a source of support for people we know have experienced it or if they do unfortunately experience it in the future.” 

Awareness of warning signs is something discussed in the training videos from UVU the office had students watch this week. In one video, victims and police officers went over some of the ways abusers use power and control in domestic violence situations.

Some of the relationship red flags to look out for are coercion and threats, intimidation and scare tactics, emotional abuse, gaslighting and economic abuse through controlling finances. 

“Domestic violence is something that impacts every aspect of our communities,” American Fork Police Chief Darren Falslev said in the video. “One thing that has stood out as we have reviewed these types of cases is that communication is a key to a successful outcome.”

He encouraged people in domestic violence situations to reach out to local law enforcement, victim advocates and other professional resources. 

On Wednesday, Oct. 21, the office shared a TED talk from Jackson Katz: “Violence against women- it’s a men’s issue.” The presentation encouraged men to stand up against domestic violence.

Katz explained that intervening to stop abuse isn’t always direct. Sometimes opportunities can arise in daily conversations. He gave an example of a group of guys hanging out. If one said something sexist or degrading to women, the rest of the group shouldn’t just laugh it off but step in and say they don’t appreciate comments like that. 

“There’s so many men who care deeply about these issues, but caring deeply is not enough. We need more men with the guts, with the courage, with the strength, with the moral integrity, to break our complicit silence and challenge each other and stand with women and not against them,” Katz said. 

Lahti said the main message of the talk is that men need to be involved in the issue of domestic violence and sexual assault. “Sexual assault and domestic violence is not a women’s issue, it’s a societal issue. We need men to be part of the conversation in order for attitudes to change and for it to be taken seriously.”

More information and resources for domestic violence prevention and support can be found here.

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