As part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Eastern Michigan University’s Women’s Resource Center put together an in-depth look at just how serious the issue of domestic violence can be by taking victims’ stories and displaying them in a variety of artistic ways.
The True Life Display was held in the Student Center on Tuesday, Oct. 22 and Wednesday, Oct. 23 from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. Students were able to come and go as they pleased and were provided with information, pamphlets and support if they needed it after viewing the emotional display. Students were able to earn LBC credit as well by attending.
“This exhibit gives survivors a chance to tell their story,” said Ellen Collier, a coordinator for the WRC.
This display is put on at EMU every year, with new entries each year. It is a combination of poetry, art, newspapers, charts, lyrics and more. True Life is also a silent display, where students are asked not to speak until they exit the room.
While walking through the dimly lit room, the observer could only hear a gong and a bell going off every few seconds in order to represent every time anabusive situation takes place. It created a surreal and impacting experience.
Collier explained that some items in the display were new and brought in by current students, while others have been collected through the years and donated or loaned from the domestic violence centers Safe House and First Step.
“It’s something where the victim is silenced 95 percent of the time,” Collier said. “There is a lot of victim blaming and bad stigma associated with it.”
It is important for the victim to realize that it is not their fault and that they have nothing to do with someone’s choice to act violently.
Collier said that she feels it is particularly important for college students to see the display because abuse is so prevalent and many dangerous behaviors may go unnoticed. “You begin to see patterns,” she said.
Next year, while putting this display together, the focus will be put more on trying to represent a wider range of relationships.
There are many different types of circumstances of domestic violence, including ones where the woman is the abuser and abusive relationships within the LGBT community. If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic or sexual violence, then it is time to stop the silence. You can seek help through the WRC or Snow Health Center on campus.
You can also contact one of the domestic violence centers that offer a 24-hour helpline, counseling, support groups, emergency bedding and shelter, legal advocacy and more.
The helpline for Safe House Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. is 734-995-5444 and the helpline for First Step in Wayne, Mich. is 734-722-6800.
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