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GRC to host educational events highlighting Relationship Violence Awareness Month

| Thursday, October 8, 2020

With the start of October, the month dedicated increasing awareness surrounding relationship violence, the Gender Relations Center (GRC) is sponsoring a multitude of events. These Relationship Violence Awareness Month (RVAM) events will include art installations such as “What Were You Wearing,” hands-on experiences such as “Kintsugi” and educational teachings including  “Going to Court as a Survivor.”

“I was inspired to have a diverse offering of programming in terms of being educational, interactive and restorative,” Kaitlyn Stankiewicz, program coordinator for healthy relationships and community outreach, said.

Christopher Kozelichki, assistant director of career development at Notre Dame Law School and the speaker for “Going to Court as a Survivor,” discussed the importance of having diverse events to bring awareness to relationship violence. 

“Everyone is generally aware of the idea of domestic violence and relationship violence, but I think that there are a lot of misunderstandings still about the topic,” Kozelichki said.

In light of the ongoing pandemic, both Stankiewicz and Kozelichki brought up the renewed importance of being aware about relationship violence.  

“[The pandemic has] disproportionately affected people that have found themselves in domestic violence and relationship violence because … one of the more consistent aspects of domestic violence and the cycle [of] violence is isolation, and isolation is what we’re supposed to be, in a perfect world, doing,” Kozelichki said.

Because of the rise in domestic violence due to COVID-19, more may be becoming increasingly aware that these issues exist for others, making it even more vital to share information and resources, Stankiewicz said.

RVAM kicked off on campus on Oct. 1 with “Hamilton: Violence of our Founding Fathers,” a Zoom event featuring Notre Dame history professor Dr. Linda Przybyszewski, who explored the violence that occured in the founding of the U.S. 

The art installation “What Were You Wearing” is on display Tuesday through Thursday in the Duncan Student Center. The event showcases student responses at various college campuses on what they were wearing when they were sexually assaulted. 

“The purpose of the display is to show people that it really doesn’t matter what someone is wearing,” Stankiewicz said. “No one is ever asking to be assaulted [and] it’s always the fault of the perpetuator.”

On Oct. 12, there will be an annual RVAM T-shirt giveaway to spread awareness, as well as the national “Wear Purple Day” on Oct. 15, a day during which students can honor victims, support survivors and sign a pledge against relationship violence. 

“Kintsugi” has become a particularly popular event over the years, Stankiewicz said, and is an example of the diversity of events offered during the month of October. “Kintsugi” offers a restorative process for survivors and is again taking place on Oct. 13.

“The art of Kintsugi … talks about how breaking a pot doesn’t mean you need to throw it away, you can actually glue it back together with gold and it can actually be more beautiful than it was before,” she said. 

The GRC in partnership with the Multicultural Student Programs and Services (MSPS) is sponsoring the event “Digging up the Roots of Sexual Violence” on Oct. 21, which invites participants into a discussion on sexual violence through an intersectional lens of racism, classism and heteronormativity and how it develops historically. 

As RVAM coincides with LGBTQ history month, the event “LGBTQ GreeNDot Overview” on Oct. 22 will focus on the LGBTQ community.

On Oct. 25, in partnership with Pasquerilla West and Siegfried Hall, there will be mass at the Stepan Center to pray for the victims and survivors of relationship violence. 

Finally, RVAM events will conclude with “Going to Court as a Survivor” on Oct. 27, featuring Kozelichki who has prosecuted cases that involve sexual violence.

“[The event] talks about what the process even looks like and why that can be retraumatizing to survivors, which may lend itself to why sometimes people don’t report or go through that process,” Stankiewicz said. 

The goal of this event is to take the mystery out of the court process and provide essential knowledge, Kozelichki said. It’s important for students to attend such events, he added, as college is the time for students to set positive relationship patterns.

I wish I would have known more,” Kozelichki said about his years as a college student.

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