Mercyhurst, SafeNet campaign against relationship violence

Dr. Judy Smith

If you happen to see purple footsteps around campus this month, they are there as a reminder that domestic violence takes all forms and is as much an occurrence in the single-family home down the street as it is a college dorm.

With October designated as “Domestic Violence Awareness Month,” Mercyhurst is collaborating with SafeNet on its “Take Steps to End Dating/Domestic Violence Campaign.” The purple foot prints around campus are intended to remind the university community of all the individuals whose lives are damaged by intimate partner violence, and the need to take steps to end these acts, said Dr. Judy Smith, executive director of wellness at Mercyhurst.

For many in the Mercyhurst community, the purple footprints are symbolic of an all too real personal experience. Those who lived through the tragedy of Mercyhurst dance major Jenni-Lyn Watson, who was killed by an act of domestic violence in November 2010 when she was at home in New York on Thanksgiving break, can attest to the grief. Jenni-Lyn’s boyfriend was ultimately convicted of her murder.

Throughout the month, Smith said literature about domestic violence will be made available on campus, mainly through the health center and student union. She pointed out that domestic abuse isn’t simply physical violence, but can include manipulation through words, intimidation and stalking.

Although this type of violence can affect anyone, statistically, females are at a higher risk. One in every three women will experience dating/domestic violence in her lifetime and one of five college females will experience some type of abuse or violence by a partner during their college careers. Yet many college students don’t know where to turn for help.

Anyone who feels they may be a victim can contact SafeNet’s 24-hour hotline at 454-8161 anonymously to receive information. At Mercyhurst, resources include Campus Police and Safety (ext. 2304), the Health Center (2431), Counseling Center (3650) and Residence Life (2422).

Meanwhile, as part of the observance, people are encouraged to wear purple each Friday during October to raise awareness of domestic violence. You can also show your support and advocate against relationship violence by joining the SafeNet Boo Run on October 28. See the SafeNet website - www.safeneterie.org - for registration and information.

PHOTO: Dr. Judy Smith

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