By Charlotte Dulany
University of Maryland’s MaryPIRG held a domestic violence awareness teach-in Feb. 28, which included a presentation, panel discussion and spoken word performances.
Wednesday’s event featured a screening of “Escalation,” a short film about Yeardley Love, a young woman who was killed by her ex-boyfriend. Love was a senior at the University of Virginia at the time.
One Love Foundation created the short film to honor Love’s life, and to raise awareness and educate students about the warning signs of relationship abuse. Founded in 2010, One Love works to ensure that everyone understands the difference between a healthy and unhealthy relationship.
“I think everyone needs to see this,” said Celeste Iroha, MaryPIRG’s hunger and homelessness campaign coordinator. “I think a lot of us now have questions about what we can do to help a friend or someone in need.”
Some audience members were comfortable enough to speak up about their personal experiences with relationship violence.
“I had a stalker once, and I had to go to campus security and file a report,” junior Mera Jacklis said. “I wasn’t going to, but my friends made me, because they were worried about my safety.”
One in four female students experience sexual assault in their college career, and 13 percent of women in college report they have been stalked, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).
“I know guys who use violent and possessive euphemisms,” UMD alumnus and MaryPIRG’s campus organizer Ben Swartz said. “I don’t know what to call out, because it’s usually minor comments in passing that create discomfort.”
Swartz, one of the few males in attendance, also mentioned the prevalence of violence against men.
“There is a false stigma that men are the only potential abusers in a relationship,” he said.
Funded and led by students, MaryPIRG is a statewide grassroots organization that tackles important issues such as hunger, homelessness and environmental protection.
MaryPIRG and CARE (Campus Advocates Respond and Educate) to Stop Violence at University of Maryland have partnered to bring light to sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking and sexual harassment affecting all genders in the community.