Health Services Sponsors Domestic Violence Awareness Discussion

A 19-year-old CUNY student named Edith Rojas was fatally stabbed nearly three years ago after being stalked by her ex-boyfriend, Jonathan Pena Castillo.

That incident led Sharon Hawkins of Student Health Services to start planning events on domestic violence awareness. “Love Doesn’t Hurt” is a York College panel discussion designed to inform young people about the signs and forms of domestic abuse. It also focuses on how to help avoid and get out of relationships in which domestic abuse is a problem. It is presented by the York College Student Health Services Center along with the Women’s & Men’s Centers.

This semester’s “Love Doesn’t Hurt” event was held on Sept. 29 and served as just a current example of York’s continuous effort to educate students and the community about domestic violence and abusive relationships. In 2015 York launched an anti-domestic violence program, titled “York SAVES” geared toward motivating students to maintain healthy relationships and take a stand against domestic abuse.

“I didn’t know that York College had events to promote anti-domestic violence,” said Tywanna Webb, student at York College. “But I think that it’s great. It is important for the community to be informed.”

Diasia Scott, a York Alumna, was glad to see the college focusing on the various forms of abuse. “More attention and announcements should be given to these forums relating to abuse,” said Scott, a resident of Jamaica, Queens.“Many people focus on abuse as only being physical, but it’s important to know abuse can be verbally, mentally and spiritually.”

On average nearly 20 people per minute are abused by an intimate partner in the United States, totaling  more than 10 million men and women over one year, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The coalition estimates that one in three women and one in four men have been victims of some form of abuse.

“People are getting into relationships younger and younger and they haven’t been guided on what signs to look out for that may exhibit abusive behavior,” said Webb.

According to research done by the National Domestic Violence Hotline and Break the Cycle, girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence. The same research shows that nearly half of dating college women report experiencing violent and abusive dating behavior.

Knowing the signs of domestic abuse and how and where to get help is “need to know information,” said Hawkins, adding that it’s good to know this information for yourself and to help others.

Diasia Scott believes it is important to speak up and take action when seeing other people being abused. “I’ve witnessed a friend being physically and verbally abused and encouraged her to get out of the relationship,” said Scott, who attended York from 2007- 2011. “I guess sometimes people think it’s easier to make excuses and just put up with the abuse for a while until it becomes unbearable.”

Statistics by Domestic Abuse Shelter, Inc. say on average, a woman will leave an abusive relationship seven times before she leaves for good. York College helps the community to recognize and avoid the risk of domestic violence, and to be able to prevent someone from becoming a victim.

Lt. Tamara Bailey with the public safety department is York’s domestic violence liaison. She provides services to people who may feel threatened, have restraining orders or have any personal issue they may want to discuss about their safety. Bailey can be reached in person in her office room 1M02, via email at tbailey3@york.cuny.edu or by phone at (718) 262-2228.

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