One in Four…

Raising awareness about issues related to domestic & dating violence

“Take action every day – some small dose at a time.” – Jeffrey Gitomer April 18, 2012

Filed under: Allies,community education,domestic violence,donating,volunteering — Women's Studies Intern @ 2:30 am

Domestic violence can be a scary or unfamiliar topic for many of us.  Alarming statistics, violent stories, and personal experiences compel many people to want to help victims and survivors.  But, maybe you don’t have a specialization in advocacy or violence prevention?  Perhaps you don’t have enough free time to complete training or make a long term commitment?  Those things are not necessary to make an impact.  Everyday people doing everyday things can help prevent domestic violence and provide assistance to victims and survivors.  Below are just a few ways how we can all help.

Use Your Skills to Donate or Help Others

Do you enjoy sewing, quilting, or cooking?  Try contacting your local shelters and organizations to see if clients are in need of food, blankets, or other homemade materials.

Do you love children?  You can offer to provide child care for a friend or family member going through a tough time.  Especially if this person has left an abusive partner, finances and access to child care may be limited.  Try contacting shelters and advocacy centers in your area to see if they are looking for volunteer child care providers, too.

Do you have a special talent or belong to a performance group?  These Canadian Ballet Companies created a special performance to bring awareness to the issue of domestic violence and donate to their local centers.  Dance or theater performances are great ways to educate your community about interpersonal violence and the affects it has on victims and their loved ones.

Brooklyn student Damien Bielak created 1,000 paper cranes for child victims of domestic and sexual violence.  He donated the cranes to Safe Horizon’s Manhattan Child Advocacy Center who will pass them out to each child who visits them.  In an interview Bielak stated, “I want people to know we should use our abilities and talents to benefit others.  Even simple things can make a big difference in people’s lives.”  Take what you love and use it to help others.

Are you an attorney?  Consider dedicating pro bono hours to a domestic violence victim.  Through Legal Aid of North Carolina, attorneys can choose what types of cases to which they want to donate their time, including domestic violence cases.

Or, you can simply donate!  Donating grocery gift cards, food, infant supplies, and more can greatly help out a survivor in need.

Team Up With a Local Organization

Are you a student looking for a rewarding volunteer or internship experience?  There are tons of local, state, and national advocacy agencies that look for dedicated interns year-round, which can be found by searching the internet and checking in with career services counselors.

Need a new and interesting topic for a research paper or project?  By researching a topic relating to interpersonal violence you can not only educate yourself on the topic, but also inform your teacher and classmates about these important issues.  These students at Pepperdine University teamed up with a Family Violence Response Team to raise awareness and money as their senior capstone project.

Attend or Host an Event or Fundraiser

Do you love to organize community events?  Or maybe you’re already in the process of planning one now!  Consider holding a fundraiser or community education event that centers on the interests of your community members that will focus on domestic violence or benefit domestic violence agencies.  This could range from holding bake sales to a local Dancing with the Stars competition like these folks did in Athens, Georgia!  Think of possibly dedicating a church focus group to discussing healthy, unhealthy, and abusive relationships.  FVPC offers education programming for various community organizations.  Learn more about it here!

Be sure to also keep a look out for our blog posts and local newspapers, which will notify you of interesting and informative community events throughout the year!


Nowadays, there are many stores and companies that make it a mission to support non-profit organizations.  Be on the lookout for products that donate a portion of their profits to organizations committed to combating domestic violence, like Mary Lowry’s The Earthquake Machine, which helps benefit the National Domestic Violence Hotline and

iGive is a website that donates to your favorite cause, like the Family Violence Prevention Center, every time you shop online at over 900 stores such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Best Buy, Gap, and Staples.  Simply by completing a short registration, iGive will donate $5 to your cause and an additional $5 at the time of your first purchase.  Additionally, up to 26% of your purchase cost will be donated to the cause you choose.

Listen and Believe

You do not need to be a trained advocate to help a friend or family member who is experiencing or has experienced domestic violence.  The National Domestic Violence Hotline offers some great advice on helping someone who is being abused.  The tips, which can be found here, include listening and validating his or her words and experiences, being non-judgmental, and acknowledging that he or she is in a very difficult and scary situation.  Believe what he or she shares with you and offer your support.

Remember that our 24/7/365 hotline (919-929-7122) is available to not only victims and survivors, but their friends and family members as well.  If someone confides in you and you are unsure of what to say or how you can help them, don’t be afraid to give us a call.

Don’t Be Silent

A great way that we can all help combat domestic violence is by not remaining silent about it.  By actively speaking out against domestic violence we can all help to erase the stigma of silence that can pressure victims and survivors to not seek help or share their experiences.

Use social media to reach out to a lot of people by posting interesting articles relating to interpersonal violence or your opinions on dating and domestic violence and how it is treated in schools, in the media, in the law, and in society.

Start conversations with friends, family members, co-workers, and church members about relationships and violence.  Talk to your children about domestic violence and tell them that no one deserves to be abused.  Don’t laugh at inappropriate jokes and speak out against victim-blaming comments.  Don’t condone domestic violence with your silence.

Catherine Pulsifer, author of Be a Possibilitarian states, “You can adopt the attitude there is nothing you can do, or you can see the challenge as your call to action.”  It all starts with one decision, one action.  No matter who we are or what we do, we can all do something to prevent domestic violence.  Challenge yourself to act in whatever way possible, because all of us doing small things can make a very big difference.


Upcoming Events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month April 3, 2012

Throughout the month of April several student and community organizations are sponsoring events in recognition of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM).  These events aim to raise public awareness about sexual violence and educate individuals and communities on how to prevent sexual violence.  The full list of SAAM events can be found at  Below, we have highlighted a few events that are occurring in the near future.

On Wednesday, April 4th, Project Dinah is hosting a film screening of Not My Life, a documentary about modern-day slavery and human trafficking.  The screening is taking place at 7:00 in Bingham 317.

Professor Matt Ezzell from the Department of Sociology at James Madison University will be giving a multimedia presentation on “Consuming Inequality: Gender, Media, and Violence.”  The event takes place on April 9th at 5:00 in Gardner 105.

On April 9th, from 7:00-9:00, in Dey 210, One Act is sponsoring an event titled “Checking In: What Bystanders Can Do to Prevent Relationship Abuse.”  The workshop focuses on how students can be active bystanders and support their friends in situations involving abusive relationships.

Please spread the word about all of these great events!  We hope that you can attend and that you further explore all of the opportunities offered to students and community members throughout Sexual Assault Awareness Month.


Challenge Your Notions of Poverty: Play SPENT! March 16, 2012

Filed under: community education,poverty,privilege — Women's Studies Intern @ 9:31 am
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On February 8, 2010, the Urban Ministries of Durham, with the assistance of McKinney, launched SPENT, an online program that challenges participants to attempt to survive poverty.  Play the game here.  The Urban Ministries of Durham provides food, shelter, clothing, and supportive services to those in need throughout the Durham community.

SPENT, which had over one million plays in almost two hundred countries as of August 2011 , is an interactive computer game that provides users with $1,000 at the beginning of a month and brings up real-life scenarios that require spending, such as health insurance, children’s field trips, rent, and food.  Players must make choices, test their skills, and attempt to survive.

Urban Ministries of Durham Executive Director Patrice Nelson states,  “As players struggle to stay afloat, we hope they appreciate more clearly the realities facing the many individuals and families UMD serves.”  The goal is to challenge the way people think about poverty and homelessness and educate users about the struggles that so many men, women, and children are facing in our country today.

Challenge yourself and your ideas surrounding the difficulty or ease it might take to survive poverty.  Play SPENT!


The secret no one wants to have December 9, 2011

Filed under: community education,domestic violence,volunteering,Why do they stay? — Women's Studies Intern @ 11:42 am

PostSecret is a website many people enjoy visiting. It began as a blog that published anonymous secrets and has evolved into an internationally popular destination website with approximately 5 million viewers, a number of books, and a mobile app. While the concept has adapted to new technology, the premise is this: people send unsigned postcards to Germantown, Maryland where creator Frank Warren, then publishes the postcards on the PostSecret blog. Warren describe the blog as “an ongoing community art project where people mail in their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard.” It is a space to reveal the things you think about, or recognize, or are ashamed of. Things that you need to say out loud and have other people hear, but that you don’t feel you can or don’t choose to say to those around you. Each secret is accompanied by a picture to illustrate the secret. From flippant comments about facial hair, to more serious secrets about suicide, PostSecret has them all.

On Sunday, November 27’s blog post, 17 new postcards were posted. Among them were two postcards bearing the picture of a black eye. One, a postcard of a girl doll with a colored in green and yellow circle around her eye reads: “I would rather be hit than ignored. I know how bad that sounds. I needed to tell you.” The other, is a black and white image of the upper quarter of a face. A blue, green, and black mark is colored in under the eye. A voice bubble over the eyebrow reads: “I don’t know how to leave him.”

There are a number of disturbing factors to these postcards. An obvious one is that two more people are being abused. Two more people feel trapped in their situation. But what I would like to focus on is where these postcards ended up. On an anonymous secrets blog. The only action these two survivors felt comfortable with, was to acknowledge their abuse to an unknown mass in complete anonymity. Their abuse is the big secret they cannot reveal, yet must speak.

Why abused people stay in a harmful relationship is one of the most common questions related to intimate partner violence.  Many people might insist that they would never stand for abuse in a relationship.  Unfortunately in that statement is an inherent disconnection from potential sympathy for someone who is in a bad place and needs help. Abusive relationships come in every shape and size and effect every type of person. They can affect anyone at any time.  No one wants to see themselves as a victim of abuse. No one pictures themselves becoming an abuse victim.

There are many practical reasons a person might stay in an abusive relationship: fear, presence of children, economic barriers, religion, etc. but also common are reasons which can stem from internalized beliefs about how men and women exist in society i.e. a feeling that they need a partner to complete them, a belief they did something to deserve the abuse or can do something to change it, shame over their partner’s behavior and their own powerless to stop it.

It is these societally influenced reasons that, I believe, led to the two above mentioned postcards.  The postcard that read “I would rather be hit than ignored,” could point to a belief that we sometimes hear from female clients that they feel incomplete without a partner. This message is reinforced to women all the time through media, even friends and family.  Such as when the first question a relative asks upon seeing you is if you have a partner, the barrage of romantic movies, or the overwhelming amount of beauty/fashion/sex tips geared towards women so they can “find a man”. These  messages inundate the subconscious with the belief that women need men to be complete.  Add to this toxic mix a partner who reinforces this idea (“who else would be with you?” or “who else would love you/take care of your kids?” ) and/or subscribes to very firm ideas of male/female roles in relationships and it can be easy to see how victims can feel trapped.

The second sentence of that same postcard, “I know how bad that sounds,” is a recognition of the judgment that exists in the question “why do they stay?“. Abused individuals might have even previously said those things. By acknowledging that it “sounds bad” to stay with an abusive partner, the individual illustrates how she is torn between having a partner and being abused. Conversely, while intimate partner violence (IPV) myths (“not to people like me”) abound and an “us/them” divide exists, society simultaneously shames these women for being in the position which they were socialized intoSocial psychology explains that by marking someone as a “they,” people create  a divide which is hard to cross. When we create division over one aspect, such as whether a person has been abused or not,  we prevent unity on a range of other traits. This means we prevent change from happening, from help being extended.

The other postcard reads: “I don’t know how to leave him.” The fact that this individual doesn’t know how to leave her abuser strikes me as emblematic of another social problem: a lack of education about community resources and IPV. As noted by this blog’s title, one in four women will experience domestic violence be abused in her lifetime. When you consider the people effected by abuse besides the victim/survivor.  IPV is likely to affect everyone in some way in their his/her lifetime. The work done by organizations such as ours and partners like law enforcement and the judicial system is just not enough to increase public awareness of interpersonal violence. We believe that IPV is a community issue and requires a community response.  That means churches, schools, universities and places of business all need to get on board with helping build greater awareness about the prevalence of this issue and what can be done to help those in need.

Start with you!  Here are a few things that you can do right now. Learn some tips to be an effective ally, have your work or church host a cell phone drive, or volunteer at FVPC. These postcards exist because of all of us. We live in a world that labels abuse as something we cannot speak about. As long as an abuse victim feels this, they will be silent. Their silence and pain is all of ours. We all have work to do.


Sexual and gender-based taunts: the new wave of bullying December 7, 2011

Filed under: abusive language,bullying,community education,gender norms — Women's Studies Intern @ 12:15 pm

Sexual double standards are alive and thriving, and now starting even younger than we would care to think. On November 11, Ashlynn Connor, a young girl from Illinois, committed suicide.  According to her mother Ashlynn was bullied for the previous two years. One of the preferred taunts by bullies was to call Ashlynn, age 10, a slut.

According to an article on LiveScience “slutbashing” has become a popular form of bullying for teens and tweens. Maureen McHugh a psychologist who spoke to LiveScience, defined slutbashing as labeling others as promiscuous or dirty. In the article, McHugh discusses how sexuality can be a sensitive and vulnerable subject for this age group as they are coming to terms with their sexuality. Labeling one another with terms such as “slut” and “whore” show the infiltration of sexual double standards into a younger audience. This double standard is the same which glorifies guys who have sex and shames girls who do. It is a tight rope without strict definitions; a girl must be sexual, but not too sexual. Faltering from this fine line often leads to being bullied and harassed.

While bullying is not done solely with sexual and gender-based insults, it is common. Teens that are homosexual are bullied three times as much as heterosexual students. Research into the topic shows that it is not so much the identity that kids have problems with, but the transgression of gender roles. During this time of development, tweens/teens are heavily policing one another in terms of gender and sexual identity. But the bullying is not kept to only nonconforming students. In a national study of 2,000 7-12 grade students, 48% reported they had been sexually harassed in the 2010-2011 school year.

Using sexual taunts and identity based insults as tools for bullying has potentially dangerous consequences. In the same national study, of the people who reported sexual harassment, 87% said it negatively affected them and between 25-37% said it made them not want to go to school.  Bullying is not a personal issue felt by the person being bullied. It is systemic and dangerous. And not only because of the risk of suicide. Kids who are bullied are less likely to perform to their highest ability in school and can have physical and emotional difficulties.

Ashlynn Connor is only the most recent in a string of teen suicides caused by bullying. In FVPC’s primary prevention program, Start Strong, volunteers go into middle school classrooms to discuss the topics of bullying and relationships. In the discussion of bullying, identity-based insults are covered specifically. An identity based insult is when a person takes a piece of someone’s identity to use as a put down. Volunteers discuss specifically how calling someone/thing “gay” and how calling someone a girl is problematic. Anytime someone attacks a fundamental part of you, which you cannot change, it creates tension and shame – two things one should never feel about being yourself.

Kids imitate what they see performed for them. When watching television, or talking with a tween/teen, make sure you are promoting healthy and positive examples. If there is bullying on a show you are watching, take a minute to talk about it. If you are prone to using gendered or identity based insults (like “gay” “retarded” or “queer”), think about how someone you care for might be hurt by their use.  If you hear someone else using them, talk to them about it. Bullying, like domestic violence, is a learned behavior, which means that the kids who are bullying today first saw someone else do it and get away with it.  Break the cycle.


October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month October 3, 2011

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) or Relationship Violence Awareness Month (RVAM). FVPC is partnering with the Carolina Women’s Center (CWC), Project Dinah, UNC Counseling and Wellness (CWS), and Men@Carolina to host events all month long that bring awareness to the issue of relationship violence.

Please come out to as many events as you can and bring friends!

RVAM Kick Off Event: Monday-Thursday Oct. 3-5

10 am – 1pm, Polk Place

Come out to Polk Place to find out more information about healthy relationships and the various RVAM events. Groups in attendance include, FVPC, CWC, Project Dinah, Men@Carolina, and the UNC LGBTQ Center.

Sin By Silence movie screening

Wed. Oct 5 – Noon, Graham Memorial 039

CWC is sponsoring a Brown Bag Film Screening of Sin By Silence, a documentary following the creation of Convicted Women Against Abuse (CWAA).

Telling Amy’s Story

Monday, Oct. 10, 3pm Graham Memorial 039

CWC and Verizon are partnering to bring Telling Amy’s Story to campus. The film follows the time line of a domestic violence homicide. It follows the family, friends, and court officials perspectives of what happened to Amy in the time before her death. There will be a discussion following the film.

Speak Out!

Wednesday Oct. 12, 7-9pm, The Pit

Project Dinah and Men@Carolina are hosting the annual Speak Out! event. Members of the group will read anonymous survivor stories that have been posted on the Speak Out Blog. There will also be a key note speaker, and open mic portion when audience members will be allowed to share their own stories. It is a powerful night of empowerment, an effort to break the silence around relationship violence.

Lecture: Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professor

Tuesday October 25 7pm University Room, Hyde Hall

Professor Elaine Lawless, is visiting UNC-Duke for the 2011-2012 academic year as a Keohane Distinguished Visiting Professor. She will be giving a public lecture on her research on violence against women.

Wednesday, Oct. 26, 3pm Graham Memorial 039

CWC will be sponsoring a screening of Sisters in Law, a film following two women in a small town in Cameroon who are fighting for convictions in domestic violence cases. The documentary is both fascinating and at times humorous as the audience follows State Prosecutor, Vera Ngassa, and Court President, Beatrice Ntuba and their fight for justice.


Thursday, Oct. 27, 6:30 pm Reception, 7pm Screening, Varsity Theater

Sponsored by FVPC, LUNAFEST is a traveling film festival,that shows award-winning short films for and about women. The year there will be nine films shown. Proceeds will benefit FVPC and the Breast Cancer Fund.  Tickets are $5 for students and $10 for everyone else and $7 for students & $12  for general public at the door.

Mark your calendars and come to as many of these fabulous events as possible!


Three Empowering Things You Can Do TODAY to Prevent Interpersonal Violence September 7, 2011

Regardless of my dedication to the cause, some days violence prevention advocacy feels like the weight of the world on my shoulders. For the past few years, ever since I began learning about violence prevention efforts in a class I took at Carolina, even just watching the news or listening to the radio has, at times, made me feel powerless. The fabulous folks I work with on IPV prevention efforts at UNC have often shared that they feel the same way. Knowing that I’m not alone in sometimes feeling overwhelmed by the sheer scale of our goal, completely eliminating interpersonal violence, encourages me to continue to work to prevent it however I can, no matter how small the effort.

One Act is a peer education program at UNC-Chapel Hill that encourages bystanders to identify and safely intervene in possibly risky situations to prevent IPV. But One Act is also about integrating an empowered, proactive attitude into your everyday life.

Here are some examples of some small things you can do today to empower yourself to contribute to the effort against IPV – this blog post is mine! Which approach is best for you?

  1. Have conversations – One of the easiest things you can do to help prevent interpersonal violence is to speak up when you recognize an injustice or problematic statement. Openly challenging rape-supportive or violent language and jokes causes people to think twice about their role in prevention efforts and encourages them to be more considerate of survivors in daily conversation. Tactful discussions about the issues you care about can make a huge difference, especially to those who already love and respect you and your opinions.
  2. Learn to be an effective ally – Read up on warning signs for sexual assault, abusive relationships and stalking and learn how to support loved ones who come to you for help. Also, be sure you’re aware of the different resources available for IPV survivors in your community so you’re prepared to give effective advice. You can take this effort a step further by becoming a HAVEN ally through UNC-Chapel Hill. Fall registration is open now – the one-time, four-hour training is a small commitment with a big impact.
  3. Think of others (and yourself!) – My work with One Act has taught me to always be aware of the other people around me, especially when I’m out on the town or when friends come to me for advice. Taking a simple pledge to watch out for others and take them seriously when they ask for help, regardless of whether I know them personally, was a huge shift in my mindset. It isn’t a huge commitment, but keeping an eye out helps make your overall community safer. Don’t forget to recognize when to take care of yourself, too. Last week, FVPC volunteer Charlotte Crone talked about the break she took from volunteering, which was time to recharge and relax. Taking time to relax, even just for a few hours, is important so that you’re energized when it’s time to act.

If you want more detailed information about bystander intervention, visit SAFE@UNC, email or register for a training here. Surfing the site or sending a quick question is a One Act in itself! Share your own simple ideas for action below.