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Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

The student news site of Marquette University

Marquette Wire

CAMPBELL: Domestic violence needs more attention, care

Carlie_FINALThe Tribune published a story Tuesday about the rising frequency of aggravated assault cases in Milwaukee, citing domestic violence as a partial cause of this increase. While this may simply seem like numbers in a news story, domestic violence is a unique crime that is not often spoken about and carries so many stigmas that we often avoid speaking about it.

Domestic violence that makes the news often gets labeled as something other than domestic violence. The Jennifer Sebena case mentioned in Tuesday’s article or the shooting in Brookfield last October at the Azana spa are just two examples of this. We see domestic violence as a private, personal crime, not something that is supposed to make front-page news. We are afraid to talk about it.

Domestic violence affects mostly women; 85 percent of domestic violence victims are female. Women in abusive relationships suffer horrendously on a daily basis at the hands of someone who might tell them it is for their own good, that it is their fault; someone who is expected to love them unconditionally, like a husband, boyfriend, girlfriend, brother, father or mother.

Abuse is not always physical; emotional abuse is often just as harmful. One in four women will experience domestic violence of some form in their lifetime, which is the equivalent of a floor and a half of Cobeen Hall residents. The most at-risk age group is between ages 20 and 24, which includes about half of the female undergraduate population at Marquette.

I could write pages more about domestic violence causes, statistics and research, but I think that type of information can just bog us down. What is most important when discussing and understanding domestic violence is how to help victims and how they can share their stories.

Four years ago, if someone had asked me to define domestic violence, I would not have known what to say. Now, however, I don’t think I would know where to start. My sorority’s national philanthropy is Domestic Violence Awareness, and we hold fundraisers for women’s shelters, volunteer and host events that raise awareness about the struggles of those who suffer from domestic abuse. Being in an environment that allows us to talk about this “unspeakable” topic helps us learn from one another. We also share stories. We share the stories of our mothers, our sisters and ourselves. We are shoulders for each other to cry on and safety nets for each other to fall back on.

The support system and open environment we have is, I believe, key to dealing with these unthinkable situations. I don’t mean that every woman needs sorority sisters on whom to fall back. What I am talking about is women helping other women who are in need.

I don’t know what it will take to end the domestic violence epidemic. I do know, however, that one way to work toward that goal is to educate and involve more women in the cause. I have never personally been a victim of a domestic abuse crime, but every time I hear of one, my heart breaks a little. I am inspired by survivors to raise money and awareness and spend my time helping in their fight.

It is going to take women across the board, from all walks of life, in all professions to end domestic violence. We need women in government and politics who are not afraid to talk about it with one another and their male colleagues. We need caring women to work in shelters and as advocates. We need women journalists and news writers to be unafraid to bring domestic violence to the forefront of our minds. We need men to be able to talk about it, too, but as a crime that disproportionately affects women, it has to start with us. We need to be able to talk about it.

Caroline Campbell is a senior in the College of Communication with a major in journalism and a minor in history. Email her [email protected].

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