Stony Brook Takes a Stand Against Domestic Violence
The annual “Take a Stand/Walk With Me” domestic violence awareness event, organized by the Center for Prevention and Outreach, will be held on Wednesday, October 23, during Campus Lifetime. The event kicks off with a march led by Wolfie and the Spirit of Stony Brook Drum Corps that will start in the SAC Plaza at 1:00 pm. Then it will move to the SAC Auditorium, where there will be giveaways, an information fair, a performance by Swallow This!, peer educators and remarks from the Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk and the Suffolk County Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“In addition to shining a light on a major public health and human rights issue, this event gives domestic violence victims visibility and a sense that they are not alone,” said Smita Majumdar Das, assistant director of the Wo/Men’s and Gender Resource Center at the Center for Prevention and Outreach.
Even though it has reached epidemic proportions in the United States and around the world, domestic violence is one of the most chronically underreported crimes. By conservative estimates, 1.3 million women in the United States are assaulted by partners every year, according to the National Centers for Injury Prevention and Control. The National Violence Against Women Survey found that one out of every four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime. An overwhelming majority of victims are between the ages of 20 and 24, though relationship abuse can start as early as junior high school and continue into old age.
Domestic violence is pervasive; victims come from all walks of life irrespective of race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, national origin, education, sexual orientation or relationship status. It happens in working-class neighborhoods, affluent areas and on college campuses. At Stony Brook, several departments are working together to raise awareness and support those who are victims of violence.
The Center for Prevention and Outreach at the Counseling and Psychological services has a staff of highly trained psychologists, social workers and health professionals who provide counseling, support and guidance for students.
Sometimes students do not realize that they are in an abusive relationship and sometimes shame and stigma gets in the way of reaching out for help. Some student populations, such as LGBTQ identified students, international students and others, are at higher risk for violence, largely due to limited social support and lack of services that meet their needs.
The Department of Human Resources is an important resource for Stony Brook employees dealing with domestic violence issues.
“Most HR staff are trained to recognize the subtleties associated with domestic violence, including that sometimes the victims can be men,” said Steven Riccobono, Assistant Director, Human Resource Services. “There are new laws that give victims of domestic violence possible accommodations in the workplace. We are also updating our policy to encourage employees who have an order of protection to make their supervisors and campus police aware of the order so that the University can work with them to ensure their safety and co-workers saftey in the workplace.”
The Stony Brook University Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is another important member of the domestic violence support team for faculty and staff. EAP staff members have specialized training and experience, and are available to consult confidentially with any employee who is experiencing domestic violence in the workplace or at home. When necessary, appropriate referrals are made to outside providers. EAP works closely with campus and community resources including the Victims Information Bureau of Suffolk and the Suffolk County Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
“Sometimes employees may come to us with performance issues that are a result of domestic violence,” said Colleen Stanley, lead EAP coordinator. “My colleague Monique Thornton and I are available to help faculty, supervisors and employees navigate through these difficult situations.”
EAP provides a safe, compassionate place for Stony Brook faculty or staff to discuss any concerns may have. EAP services are always voluntary and appointments can be made over the phone or in person.
By Howard Gimple