October is Relationship Violence Awareness Month!

by Diamond Slone Brown

October is Relationship Violence Awareness Month (RVAM) and UNC is in full swing with powerful and empowering programs and events for the entire month! Learn more about relationship violence and how our campus supports and encourages those affected by sexual and interpersonal violence by attending any (or ALL!) of the month’s events. You can also follow any of the many links added below to learn more:

October 1 (rescheduled for October 8 due to rain)- Speak Out! Against Sexual and Interpersonal Violence (Project Dinah) – 7:30pm in the Pit

  • To kick off Relationship Violence Awareness Month, join Project Dinah at Speak Out! Against Sexual and Interpersonal Violence. Speak Out! is a powerful event where members of Project Dinah will read anonymous testimonials of survivors’ experiences that have been collected over the year through our Speak Out! blog (linked below).
  • In speaking out, we hope to break the troubling silence that surrounds sexual assault and relationship violence and lend our voices to those who struggle with its effects.
  • We will also have spoken word performers, music performances, and an open mic for people who wish to share their story at the event.
  • Add your survivor story to our anonymous blog and read the stories of others who have spoken out at http://speakoutunc.blogspot.com/ ***trigger warning***


October 2-31 – Relationship Violence Awareness Month Trainings:

  •  HAVEN: October 15 (staff, 1-4 pm), October 23 (student, 1-4 pm)
    One Act: 10/2 (1-5 pm)
    Safe Zone: 10/5 (10 am-2 pm), 10/28 (9 am-1 pm)
    Sustaining Healthy Relationships: (available online – download more information)
    One Love Escalation Workshop: (Time and Date TBD)Workshops on Consent and Healthy Relationships (TBD)

October 7 – Wellness Wednesday (Student Wellness) from 11:30am-1:30pm in the Plaza outside the Student Union

October 9  – Carolina Men Care Campaign begins

October 9 – Awareness Concert with Compass Center at Local 506

October 21 – Screening of The Hunting Ground (Carolina Roundtable Committee on Student Government), 7-11pm in Genome G100

  •  At the screening, there will be a documentary showing and panel that will include Andrea Pino (one of the main characters in The Hunting Ground), Sofie Karasek (a survivor featured in the film and co-founder of End Rape on Campus), and two of the film’s producers.

October 22 – Coffee Conversation on Relationship Violence (Carolina Women’s Center, UNC Men’s Project, Sigma Gamma Rho), 5-6:30pm in the Campus Y Anne Queen Lounge

  • Campus Coffee Conversations is a monthly discussion series where students, faculty, and staff can talk about issues surround gender equity and violence prevention at UNC. This month we will be focusing our conversation on relationship violence. We will start the event with a panel discussion with campus and community resources, who will share their expertise. An informal discussion around different aspects of relationship violence will follow. Coffee and light refreshments will be served.

October 26 or 27: Project Dinah Consent Carnival, 7-9pm

October 28 – Screening of Private Violence (CWC, Compass Center, Southern Oral History Program, Working Group in Feminism and History), 6:30-9pm at the Varsity Theatre.

  • There will be a short networking opportunity (with snacks and beverages) leading up to the film screening at 7pm. Following the film, there will be a panel discussion (featuring Kit Gruelle, a survivor, advocate, and educator who is featured in the film). There will be a small suggested donation for the event, with all proceeds benefiting the Compass Center for Women and Families.

October 29 – Healthy Queer Relationships (SAGA, One Act, possibly Queer People of Color), 7pm

  •  This will be an event on healthy queer relationships. It will take place during SAGA’s general body meeting. There will be a guided discussion alongside information from the “Sustaining Healthy Relationships” online module.

October 29-30 — Costumes ≠ Consent (One Act, Interactive Theater Carolina) in the Pit

Here is a link to even more RVAM events happening all month!! http://safe.unc.edu/create-change/rvam/

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual, interpersonal, or relationship violence this site (safe.unc.edu) may also be used to find support and resources to encourage and guide you to those that can help.

A Different Kind of Abuse: Reproductive Coercion in Abusive Relationships

People often associate intimate partner violence with images of physical abuse.  However more and more research illustrates the prevalence of reproductive coercion in abusive relationships. Reproductive coercion includes contraceptive sabotage (like throwing away birth control pills or hiding them), refusal to wear condoms, demanding unprotected sex, and preventing (or in some cases forcing) abortion.

Often when hearing of an unintended pregnancy or contraction of an STD, folks  blame individuals for not being responsible for their own sexual health.  We need to examine coercion in relationships because often, survivors in abusive relationships have no say negotiating contraceptive use or in the case of female-identified survivors, have their birth control methods sabotaged.

Along with unintended pregnancy increases, abusive, sexually coercive relationships also lead to increased rates of STDs.  Dr. Anne Teitelman is an expert on partner abuse and on HIV risk found that female identified survivors of partner abuse are significantly more likely than others to be diagnosed with an STD.

So what can we do? A joint study by the Harvard School of Public HealthFamily Violence Prevention Fund, and the National Institute of Health found that simply asking young women during clinic visits if they experienced reproductive coercion dramatically reduced the odds of their male partners attempting to force them to become pregnant by 70%.  The study found that participants who were asked about reproductive coercion and then counseled about harm-reduction strategies including switching to longer-acting contraceptives and contacting domestic and sexual assault resources were also 60% more likely to report ending a relationship because it felt unsafe or unhealthy. While this study applied specifically to women in heterosexual relationships, clinicians in the field of sexual health can also ask LGBTQ survivors about contraceptive coercion in their relationship. These questions are important because they identify a solution that can be implemented easily.  By being active bystanders and by increasing education about DV issues, sexual health care practitioners can dramatically decrease reproductive coercion.

We can all work to be active bystanders and intervene when we see someone in trouble.  Often just asking “Are you alright?” or “Do you need to talk?” can be the first step to someone getting the help they need.

If you’re interested in learning more about preventing abusive relationships or how to help a friend in an abusive situation check out safe.unc.edu to register for upcoming HAVEN and One ACT trainings.

Upcoming  HAVEN Training Dates:

October 2 5:00- 9:00 PM (Student)

October 16 12:30-4:30 PM (Faculty and Staff)

October 30 5:00- 9:00 PM (Student)

November 13 5:00- 9:00 PM (Student)

Upcoming One Act Training Dates:

September 26 from 5 pm – 9 pm on North Campus

October 22 1:00 pm- 5 pm

November 8 3:30 pm- 7:30 pm