Conversation Starts with Listening

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.

“Listen” by Ky. Flikr Creative Commons.

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.

Every year during RVAM, Project Dinah hosts a Speak Out event. During this event, members of the Carolina community read anonymous posting detailing the experiences of survivors. These accounts, collected and archived on the site, are a prime example of the stories we should be listening to, learning from, and considering when discussing relationship violence on our campus. (3)

On October 22nd, a collection of UNC organizations will be hosting a Coffee and Conversation event surrounding Relationship Violence in the Anne Queen Lounge of the Campus Y from 5 to 6:30pm.

A panel of professionals from Student Wellness, Equal Opportunity & Compliance Office, Carolina Women’s Center, Compass Center for Women and Children, and the Dean of Students Office 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 you can check out the Facebook event page HERE.

RVAM is a month for introspection, for challenging conversations, and for action. Let’s use this opportunity to listen to survivors and engage in constructive dialogue. Join the conversation and let your voice be heard.

If you would like to learn more about active listening and supporting survivors, you can also check out the free online Haven program provided by Student Wellness by clicking HERE.

Check out the RVAM schedule below and click HERE for more UNC RVAM events.

List of events for RVAM 




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.

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 ***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!!

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

Relationship Violence Awareness Month

October is Relationship Violence Awareness Month (RVAM), and UNC’s schedule of powerful events is in full swing, including The Carolina Men Care Campaign, which begins today October 9th  and continues through October 16th. The Carolina Men Care Campaign focuses on male-identified allies and partners of those who have experienced or are experiencing relationship violence. In addition to hosting events as a part of RVAM, the Carolina Men Care Campaign will be tabling in the Pit all week to provide resources and information on ways male-identified folks can prevent relationship violence and be allies for survivors.

You can learn more about relationship violence by attending campus events, or encourage a friend who you know has been affected by relationship violence to seek help and support by attending one of the month’s events.

RVAM Event Schedule

October 1st-31st Durham Women’s Shelter Drive

October 1st-31st Healthy Relationships Campus and Media Campaign

October 15th-31st The Courage Project

October 9th at 5PM Partners of Survivors Workshop

October 10th at 5:30PM Hip Hop: Beyond Beats and Rhymes film screening

October 11th at 7:00pm
Healthy Relationships: How Parents Can Talk to Kids (In Spanish)

October 12th Chapel Hill Underground Party

October 13th at 5:00pm Domestic Violence Awareness 5k

October 13th Poetry Slam

October 15th at 6:30PM Men Against Relationship Violence: What it Means to be a Male Ally

October 16th at 7PM Dr. Jackson Katz

October 17th at 6:30pm The Art of Healing

October 23rd at 4:30pm Legitimate Rape? Current Scholarship and the Debate over Consent and Choice

October 23rd at 6PM Communicating with Children about Relationship Violence workshop

October 26th at 7PM Halloween Fun Run

October 28th Domestic Violence Walk

October 30th at 5:30PM The Naked Truth: How Media Shapes Us

October 30th at 7:00pm Film Screening: “Sisters in Law”

     To learn more about what organizations and campuses around the country are going for RVAM, check out the No More Campaign and the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence for other national and international public awareness and advocacy campaigns and for resources for those who have experienced relationship violence.