October’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month started a few days sooner with The President’s Commission on the Status of Women kicking off their Pledge Project in Gullen Mall on Sept. 29.
The Pledge Project is an initiative through the COSW Social Justice Committee to educate students on domestic and sexual violence against women and men.
“I’ve always been a victim of violence, especially during my school years,” said Rachelle Brown. “Always been targeted by bullies. I’ve tried to ignore it…it makes me feel madder inside.”
The WSU sophomore art student said the bullying started since she was 6 years old. Classmates harassed Brown on the bus, called her names and swore at her. However, Brown said teachers acted as a line of defense and did not allow those bullies to bring her down.
She said, “Ignore them.”
Brown was one of the many students who traced their hand on a white banner as a sign of public declaration to not lift their finger against someone else in violence.
“The reason why I raise my hand against violence [is] because violence is the worst part that’s happening here in the City of Detroit.”
Findings gathered from the Michigan State Police 2016 Crime Date and Statistics report show that Wayne County had the highest number of reported domestic violence victims in the state of Michigan last year totaling 27,574. Oakland County was second and totaled 6,739.
“We don’t know the actual true statistics because a lot of people don’t report,” said Aleksandra Stoklosa, WSU counselor at the Counseling and Psychological Services. “But we do know that one in four women during their lifetime is going to be affected by sexual violence, whether it’s sexual assault [or] sexual harassment.
Some incidents involved multiple offenders against only one victim, which is why VOR totals may not match, according to state police.
“Many students that we see in CAPS, they do have a history of trauma, particularly working in an urban university,” Brown said. “Students a lot of times [are] very hesitant to take any actions to report of any instances of violence…because they’re afraid.”
The counselor said some of these fears stem from negative consequences, retaliation or some victims succumbing to the belief that such behavior is normal.
“On a college campus, what we can do is involve the community, and make those who are affected by it [to] make them feel welcome and safe,” said Brown.