by Will McInerney
All too often, we tend to mistake hearing for listening.
Hearing is a physiological process by which sound waves are processed and passed along from our ears to our brains. Listening is a more complicated psychological process by which we comprehend, create meaning, and apply understanding. (2) Listening engages empathy and connection. This process asks us to be introspective and to challenge ourselves. Listening looks like putting your phone away during a conversation. Listening means you are not formulating a rebuttal or counterpoint while the other is talking, rather you are thinking deeply about what they are saying and taking time to process the information.
As a community, we need to deepen our commitment to whole-heartedly listening to survivors and to the professionals who work and advocate on these issues.
October is Relationship Violence Awareness Month (RVAM). During this month (as well as every other month) it is important that we work to hone our listening skills, foster conversations, and catalyze action.
Relationship violence takes many forms (including but not limited to physical, sexual, emotional, spiritual, economic, and verbal) and affects a significant percentage of college-aged individuals. (1) RVAM is a time of year when we seek to shine light on this issue and work to create a safer, more accountable, and inclusive campus for all faculty, staff, and students.
One way we can do this is by having more open and honest conversations. Through conversation, we seek to elicit action, foster change, and create impact. But when having conversations it’s also important that we take special note to truly listen, especially to those directly affected.
This year during RVAM, Student Wellness and the Compass Center is focusing on consent, communication, and healthy relationships. Throughout this October, members of the Carolina community are encouraged to show support by participating in any number of the following RVAM events.
Every Monday a live stream consent playlist is available. Tune in while you are working, out for a walk, or driving for an RVAM crafted playlist between 9am -4pm via Twitch.tv. (search RVAM consent playlist)
On October 21st, students can participate in 3 rounds of virtual trivia covering, the Spectrum of Violence and Pop Culture, Maintaining Healthy [Virtual] Relationships through Love Languages, Who, What, When, Where, and Why–UNC [Virtual] Campus Resources.
On October 28th, a collection of UNC organizations will be hosting a virtual panel to explore the intersection of Relationship Violence, Race, and Economic Justice. The event will be held @ 2:00pm via zoom.
A panel of professionals from Student Wellness, Equal Opportunity & Compliance Office, Carolina Women’s Center, Compass Center for Women and Children, will speak and help facilitate group discussions. This is an opportunity for us to engage, to speak, and to challenge our community and ourselves to take tangible steps to reduce violence and listen to survivors.
For more information, check out the RVAM schedule below. (all 2020 events will be hosted virtually)
Will McInerney has worked with the campus wide initiative to increase men’s involvement in gender equity efforts and violence prevention since its inception. He partners with students, faculty, and staff to promote positive, inclusive, and non-violent masculinities.
Will is also a writer, performer, and consultant specializing in Middle East and North Africa-based conflict zones. His work has been featured on National Public Radio, Al Jazeera, American Public Media, and recently at the International Storytelling Center. Will earned his Bachelor of Arts in Peace, War, and Defense from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.