Statistically, every student on campus knows someone affected by domestic violence, regardless of whether or not they are aware of it. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four women nationally will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime, the majority of them between the ages of 18 and 24.
As Domestic Violence Awareness (DVA) Month, nears to a close, it is important to evaluate the successes and failures of the DVA movement both on campus and nationwide. While USC’s student organizations do a good job raising awareness, a focus on responding to domestic violence rather than preventing it before it happens detracts from the movement as a whole.
The USC Center for Women and Men and the Alpha Chi Omega and Omega Phi Beta sororities raised funds for the movement throughout the month of October. The majority, however, goes exclusively toward resources that help women get out of abusive relationships.
While these services are of the utmost importance, more attention should be directed to preventing abuse from happening.
Few organizations, for example, are dedicated to mentoring young boys. Domestic violence is self-perpetuating: children who grow up in abusive households are much more likely to be abusive or abused in relationships as adults. Mentorship is crucial to avoid this continued cycle of violence.
Increased efforts must also be made to involve more men in the fight against domestic violence. At a candlelight vigil hosted by Alpha Chi Omega on Thursday, speakers lauded the few men in the audience, acknowledging how rare it was to see them there.
However, since men are far more likely to be abusive than women, it is absolutely essential that they join the conversation. The current lack of male involvement sends a message to perpetrators of sexual violence—who already do not adequately respect women—that women’s efforts to end domestic violence do not deserve male esteem or support.
Domestic violence remains an extremely common problem among the college-age demographic. It is thus imperative that students take action on this serious issue and support preventative measures that in the past may have been overlooked.