Members of the campus community came together to spread awareness of domestic violence during the university’s annual “Take a Stand/Walk with Me” event on Wednesday, Oct. 25.
“Domestic violence is about someone exerting power and control in ways that are very broad,” Dr. Marisa Bisani, assistant vice president for Student Health, Counseling and Outreach Services, said at the event. “It can be sexual, physical assault and/or verbal. It’s not limited to any specific group, for statistics reveal abuse is occurring in all races, sexual orientation, backgrounds, family structures, ages, and religion.”
According to statistics published by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 2015, an average of 20,000 calls are placed on domestic violence hotlines nationwide each day. A 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in three women and one in four men have been victims of physical violence by intimate partners in their lifetime.
As per tradition, the 90 minute event was comprised of a short march and later, a rally and information fair in the Student Activities Center’s Sidney Gelber Auditorium. Led by the Spirit of Stony Brook Marching Band Drumline, the Stony Brook dance team and Stony Brook’s mascot, Wolfie, marchers looped around the Academic Mall and the Staller Center for the Arts, behind the Melville Library and then up the zebra path. Chants like “take a stand, end the violence,” could be heard throughout.
On and off-campus organizations including L.I. Against Domestic Violence, Brighter Tomorrows, Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk and the university’s LGBTQ* Services offered information on how to support domestic violence victims and survivors.
Various speakers — including Assistant Dean and Director of the Undergraduate Colleges Dr. Rachelle Germana, Complainant Navigator Samantha Winter and student improv group “Swallow This” — took to the stage to discuss different aspects of domestic violence.
“I think Stony Brook especially does a really great job at creating community that help us to deal with [sexual violence],” Tom Troy, risk manager for the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity, said. “Things like Green Dot raise awareness and help the victims anywhere from emotional abuse to sexual violence come forward, and help us to put the terrible people that do these things in jail, kick them out of school, get rid of them. It makes the entire community safer and better as a whole.”
Christine Szaraz, Stony Brook’s Center for Prevention and Outreach (CPO) coordinator of sexual violence prevention and outreach programs, has headed the event since 2011. Even though CPO was only created 10 years ago, Szaraz said the event had been going on at Stony Brook before then, although its origins are unclear.
In the time that CPO has been in charge of “Take A Walk,” it has grown from a single march to a comprehensive event that includes a rally and participation from more than a dozen organizations.
Although CPO has been partners with the Undergraduate Colleges for this event in the past, this year was the first time students were able to receive points in the Battle of the UGCs for attending, Szaraz said. Regardless, she said she has had no problem finding people to participate and oftentimes they reach out to her to get involved.
Cody Pomeroy, who is enrolled in a dual degree program in public health and business administration, serves as a graduate outreach assistant for the CPO. “This cause and all the other things we do at CPO are about sexual violence, alcohol and other drugs, bystander intervention,” he said. “I feel like they’re the kind of issues that many people know are going on, but sometimes can either be too abstract or that a lot of people don’t realize the sheer scope of those problems… That when you really make these things more salient you give people the skills to address them, it makes it safer for everybody.”