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Say No To Domestic Violence

By Sydney Meyer
On November 6, 2017

Photo by: Ashley Alonzo

The issue is relevant. According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, an average of more than 12 million people are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner over the course of the year in the US. 

Domestic VIolence Awareness Week (Oct. 22-29) provided many opportunities to raise awareness through various events, such as “Donut” Let Love Hurt, the Clothesline Project and the Willow presentation. The potential for domestic violence exists within each relationship, and relational navigation requires an understanding of the proper ways to date.

“Dating violence is a physical, emotional, verbal, sexual abuse that one person can then put upon another, particularly in a current or former dating relationship,” said Cassie, the presenter from the Willow Domestic Violence Center.

On Oct. 26, the Willow Domestic Violence Center provided an opportunity for students to learn about domestic violence and potential ways abuse can manifest within relationships. Cassie provided examples of real-life violence, engaging the audience through discussion and interaction.                

Cassie, an Ottawa University alumni, decided to get involved with Willow after the center presented to the student body while she attended OU. After graduation, she committed to volunteer with Willow any way she could.

To start the presentation, Cassie (who, like the other presenters, only identified herself by her first name) questioned the audience about the reasons an individual may refrain from reporting the violence in their relationship. These reasons included resistance to report based on fear or embarrassment, but oftentimes, people don’t know who to call or where to turn.

“Think about where you all are. Do you know who to call? Who could I tell?,” she asked.

Cassie introduced the power wheel, which refers to the power-and-control dynamic within abusive relationships. She included examples that are not often considered abuse, such as the impact of strong body language or gaslighting, which is using manipulative tactics to cause an individual to question their sanity.

As the presentation progressed, the audience of around 30 people asked questions and interacted with the speaker, creating a dialogue instead of a lecture type atmosphere.

“I thought it was a terrific conversation. … They weren’t afraid to engage,” said Cassie said after the presentation.

Cassie highlighted issues that can result from dating violence and included information about why an individual would remain in an abusive relationship. These reasons range from an extended time investment to learned helplessness, in which the individual feels they are not capable of a certain task.

The presentation went on to cover methods that are useful when talking to an individual who is in an abusive relationship.

“Believe them, believe them, believe them, every single time,” Cassie said.

She stated the importance of empathy, of not blaming the individual within an abusive relationship. When engaging in a vulnerable conversation, putting oneself in another’s shoes is of utmost importance.

The Franklin County Willow Program Coordinator, Taylor, said the turnout was great — over half the usual number.

“I thought the presentation was very engaging,” said Nadia Chorny, a freshman who attended the presentation.

Freshman Rachel Pruett also found the presentation informative. “I would say that, even though I knew about domestic … and sexual abuse, I did learn in the presentation,” she said. “It is always eye-opening to hear about real experiences, and I think it brings everyone back to reality when we hear them.”

Providing an eye-opening experience is exactly what Taylor envisioned with this presentation.

“I want the community to know this is happening here. We are not exempt. When we walk down Main Street in Ottawa, it looks like the perfect little town. And those are the towns that can be the scariest,” she said.

Domestic abuse is a very real issue, manifesting in different ways each day. Education and awareness are important ways to put a stop to this trend. If you or anyone you know is struggling with domestic abuse, Willow provides a 24-hour hotline and court services, among other things. To contact Willow’s hotline, call 785-843-3333 or visit their website for more information at

Be on the lookout for upcoming Willow events in January, when the center has planned events to educate about human trafficking.

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