Students march outside of the Student Activities Center on Wednesday Oct. 24 for a walk for domestic violence awareness. More than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the United States have experienced domestic violence. ALEXANDER BAKIRDAN/THE STATESMAN

At least 100 students came together on Wednesday for the annual walk for domestic violence awareness, “Take a Stand/Walk With Me,” organized by the Center for Prevention and Outreach (CPO).

“This means so much to this community, and it is a show of force for what we believe in,” Christine Szaraz, the coordinator of sexual assault prevention and outreach programs, said.  

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, “More than 1 in 3 women (35.6 percent) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5 percent) in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”

The roughly 20-minute walk, led by the Spirit of Stony Brook Drum Corps and the Stony Brook Dance Team, looped around the university, as students chanted “Seawolves don’t be silent, take a stand and end the violence!” and held up signs that read “Words can do as much damage as any hand ever could,” “Love shouldn’t hurt” and “No excuse for abuse.”

“I believe this walk is important, and it’s definitely something I want to support,” Val Marzulli, a freshman psychology major, said. With it being 2018, Marzulli believes that society should have already come further towards putting an end to domestic violence.

Anna Zhang, a freshman computer science major who participated in the march said she was inspired to attend the event after hearing stories from her friend who was once in an abusive relationship.

“I want to bring awareness of standing up for yourself when you’re in an abusive relationship and knowing that you can break free,” Zhang said.

Dating violence statistics show that college students are not equipped to deal with dating abuse – 57 percent say it is difficult to identify and 58 percent say they don’t know how to help someone who’s experiencing it, according to Love Is Respect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, looking to empower youth to prevent and end dating abuse.

After the march, there was a brief gathering in the Student Activities Center Sidney Gelber Auditorium, which featured a performance from student improv group, “Swallow This!”

“I believe we need to be creative to have people show up and that is the key to making a difference here,” Szaraz said, after the group put on a series of skits, including stories of domestic violence and victim blaming from students at Stony Brook University

A poster was set up for participants to write down messages of support for those impacted by all forms of interpersonal violence.

“I believe that the walk is a great opportunity for students to get connected to resources and this event allows the awareness to spread after,” Samantha Winter, the survivor advocate and prevention specialist, said.

CPO’s mission is to provide students and the campus community with prevention, early intervention, education and outreach services around the many public health concerns impacting college students, including domestic violence, according to its website.

Szaraz said she believed the walk was a success, and encouraged students to get involved in the CPO’s other programs including the Violence Intervention and Prevention (VIP) Active Bystander Certificate Program, which is designed to build student awareness, knowledge and skills in the area of sexual and relationship violence and bystander intervention.

Emphasizing that Stony Brook University students play a crucial role toward putting an end to domestic violence, Szaraz said, “I want students to understand the importance they have as peers, as they can make a difference through being supportive, listening and helping others with resources.”