MCC and SCCAP partner for Allyship Week
The Santa Clara
March 1, 2018
“Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much,” reads a poster filled with vibrantly colored butterflies displayed in Benson Memorial Hall.
The poster is a product of an educational presentation on abusive relationships led by several Santa Clara Community Action Program (SCAAP) leaders on Feb. 26 in the Williman Room.
Around 40 people participated in the event as part of Allyship Week, a two-week campaign dedicated to learning about issues affecting marginalized communities and offering support.
“(Being an active bystander) gives community members a role and responsibility in addressing relationship violence as a culture,” SCAAP coordinator Petra Nelken said. “When communities aren’t united and there’s a lack of community effort, there’s a greater likelihood that relationship violence will exist.”
SCAAP coordinator Sara Kelly outlined warning signs of an abusive relationship, which may include threats of violence, use of intimidation, destruction of objects of value and aggressive actions.
Emotional abuse includes manipulative behavior and belittlement of one’s partner, according to Kelly.
“(The abusive partner) might have controlling tendencies. They may accuse you of bad character or may threaten to hurt themselves if you seek help or leave the relationship,” Kelly said.
Other potential indicators include the victim’s lack of sleep, withdrawing socially and losing interest in things they were once passionate about.
Contrary to media portrayal of abuse, Kelly said it may not be clear if someone needs help.
“Something that’s common in media and mainstream conversations about abusive relationships might be a black eye. It might also not be evident,” Kelly said.
“It could be covered by clothing, makeup. Sometimes these injuries might not have a valid excuse that might warrant a follow-up conversation in a private space to see if that person is okay,” she continued.
Kelly referenced Counseling and Psychological (CAPS), the on-campus counseling services, as a potential resources for survivors. It guarantees six free sessions and confidentiality.
To be effective bystanders, Nelken advised that people express concern for those in abusive relationships without judgment for staying in the relationship.
She said to be wary that an abusive partner may monitor one’s communication.
“When our loved ones are being hurt, it’s shocking and it’s hard to address,” Nelken said. “Experts say that you can’t push someone to work for change, they need to do it themselves. Gently, without judgment, tell them you are concerned for their safety. You want to empower them because many relationships subsist on abuser dominating partner.”
A SCAAP program coordinator, who asked not be named, shared her experience as a survivor of an emotionally abusive relationship.
Though no longer in the relationship, she said the emotional and psychological toll is something she still works through.
“My confidence suffered a tremendous amount because I was in the relationship from the time I was 16 until I was 20 so I grew up being abused, and I was used to it, thinking it was normal,” she said. “It literally changed how my brain worked and how I thought about the world, myself and the people around me.”
Junior and SCAAP Department Coordinator, Sarah Locklin addressed the benefits and risks of reporting to the Title IX Office.
Locklin explained that survivors can confidentially report without filing a report.
“It increases data on these incidents which get published every year. In turn, this can get us more outside resources and create transparency on campus,” Locklin said.
Locklin noted that it does not require students to file a report or pursue discipline through the school.
She said that after a report is filed, the Title IX Office does not guarantee privacy because the accursed is informed of the report.
Locklin explained that the process may be lengthy and emotionally taxing. Potential disciplinary actions include the abuser’s loss of their housing assignment, rearrangement of schedules to minimize interaction with the abuser and expulsion.
“Those outcomes are not guaranteed and some people find that it can feel like a second invasion, so it may not be the best thing for the person to pursue,” Locklin said.
Locklin added that survivors could report to the police, reach out to YWCA, a local organization, and read stories from the Amplify Project, a platform through which Santa Clara survivors of sexual assault shared their stories.
The SCAAP coordinator who wishes to remain anonymous said survivors are all at different stages of recovery.
She stressed the importance of self-care and activities that bring one joy.
“Do what makes you happy. I read and sat outside. I started drawing, which has now become a passion of mine,” she said. “Know that there are always people to help you.”
Contact Bella Rios at email@example.com or call (408) 554-4852.