Aurora Center combats domestic violence

This month the Center will hold several outreach events on campus.

Jia Guo

Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, the Aurora Center is hosting and co-sponsoring events to educate the University of Minnesota community and raise studentsâÄô awareness of the issue.

In the United States, nearly one in four women are beaten or raped by a partner during adulthood according to the National Institute of Justice and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Each year, about 2.3 million people are raped and/or physically assaulted by their current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend.

Closer to home, statistics from the Aurora Center show that in September, 60 clients contacted the Aurora Center âÄî nine of them were cases of dating or domestic violence. In September 2010, only two people contacted the Aurora Center for dating or domestic violence.

This month, the Aurora Center will hold several events to help raise awareness about domestic violence issues including their âÄúSilent WitnessâÄù display which features cut outs of women who were killed by an abusive partner.

Katie Fries, a special project volunteer at the Aurora Center, said people have the misconception that relationships void of physical violence are âÄúnothing to worry aboutâÄù even when other abuse could be taking place.

 âÄúIf a partner is controlling your decisions or belittling you, that is obviously wrong and physical violence is not the only type of violence,âÄù she said.

Fries said that an unhealthy relationship sometimes starts when a personâÄôs partner does not give them the freedom to make their own decisions like deciding who to hang out with or where they can go.

But theyâÄôre not just trying to scare everyone. She said a big part of their outreach is encouraging healthy and happy relationships.

Members of the community are invited to take a picture holding a sign that says what they like about relationships on Northrop Mall on Friday afternoon.

Peg Lonnquist, a director at the WomenâÄôs Center at the University, said that they are working with the Aurora Center to deal with issues of domestic violence and sexual assaults.

Sometimes survivors of sexual assault or domestic violence will contact the WomenâÄôs Center, which is a resource for women in the Office of Equity and Diversity but not an advocacy service.

ThatâÄôs so terrible when something happens, she said. âÄúAll of us should work together. We usually refer them to the Aurora Center if the victims or survivors need further help.âÄù

Becky Redetzke-Field, a legal advocacy coordinator at the Aurora Center, said in an email that they keep record of who contacts the Center.

According to the Aurora Center client statistics, 25 out of 60 clients who came to the center in September were either concerned family members, friends or significant others who are often affected by the trauma, Redetzke-Field said, even though they have not been directly traumatized.

On Oct. 15, the Center will show a documentary called âÄúVery Young GirlsâÄù about girls being forced into prostitution in New York as part of the Social Justice Film Festival. Forced prostitution is also considered a form of domestic violence.