Butler addresses domestic violence with awareness events



Seven years ago, Hannah Hendricks was sexually assaulted while she attended Butler University.    On Tuesday, she returned to Butler to speak about her experiences with sexual assault, rape and an abusive marriage in a program called Why I Stayed.

Why I Stayed, one of many programs related to Domestic Violence Awareness Month, aims to educate people about ways to identify and prevent domestic violence.

“It definitely should not happen,” freshman Caitlin Ladd said. “If people are in a relationship together, they should base that relationship on caring and trust.”

Freshman Ashley Tomaszewski said she encourages people to stay aware of domestic violence.

“A lot of it goes unreported,” she said. “We have to bring awareness to it and acknowledge it in order to solve it.”

According to the Butler University Annual Security and Fire Safety Report for 2013, there were three reported rapes in 2013 and nine reported rapes over the last three years at Butler.

An organization called Click to Empower reports, nationally, one in four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime, leading to as many as 1,300 deaths a year.

Freshman Alxandra Branch said she wants society to change the way women are represented.

“I think how females are raised and the way social media portrays females is definitely a huge factor,” she said. “It makes us out to be the weaker species and we’re sexually objectified, and so we don’t feel like we can stand up to sexual violence or predators.” 

The Health and Recreation Complex supports the Stand Tall Project, a student-led initiative on Butler’s campus that addresses sexual violence, supports survivors and provides programs to teach people on campus about domestic violence.

Sarah Barnes Diaz, health education and outreach programs coordinator, said when she highlights or offers events, there are several goals—including supporting survivors, stopping victim-blaming and telling people about their resources if they are affected.

The HRC uses social media, such as Twitter and Pinterest, to encourage students to talk about these issues and raise awareness.

“There is more conversation,” Barnes Diaz said. “It is less of something that we just don’t talk about. We need to talk about it. I think, in society and also here on our campus, we have seen and have created a great deal more dialogue on issues of sexual violence and dating violence, and it has been, I think, a really fantastic shift.”