Eastern Michigan University’s Women’s Resource Center held a discussion Wednesday night about the silent exhibit display titled True Life: My Life Experience With Domestic Violence.
The exhibit displayed artwork from a number of different “survivors” and “thrivers.” The exhibit included children’s artwork, paintings, sculptures, quilts, hand-designed t-shirts, empowering words on hand-designed bras and poetry.
Lylanne Musselman, a part-time lecturer within EMU’s first-year writing program, showcased three of her empowering pieces of poetry in the exhibit and spoke about her experience with domestic violence during the discussion.
“It brought up a lot of memories that I didn’t think I’d remember,” Mussleman said. “I’ve come a long way since then.”
Mussleman shared a time toward the end of her marriage where her ex-husband dragged her children indoors, refusing to allow them to leave him.
“If you want to have children, make sure you have kids with someone you want to see for the rest of your life,” Mussleman said.
Ellen Lassiter Collier, WRC’s program coordinator, facilitated the discussion to help the attendees better understand the toll domestic violence has on the survivors involved.
“Someone who is an abuser goes through their entire day, interacts with a number of people, chooses not to hit someone, then comes home to their spouse and chooses to hit their spouse,” Collier said. “It is a choice…there is no easy way to pinpoint who is committing domestic violence. It doesn’t discriminate. Anyone can be the victim.”
According to the exhibit, more than 13 percent of college women report they have been stalked. Of these, 42 percent were stalked by a boyfriend of ex-boyfriend. It reported that 16 to 25-year-olds are at a very high risk for inter-partner violence.
“I believe them and it’s not their fault,” Collier said. “It is hard for a victim to realize they have an out, but there are always lots of people willing to help and listen.”
Collier says that if any victim of domestic violence is seeking help of any kind, they can reach out to whomever they feel safe around. A victim of domestic violence can also reach out to the EMU Women’s Resource Center, CAPS at the Snow Health Center, the Department of Public Safety, Safehouse in Ann Arbor, La Casa in Livingston or First Step in Wayne County.
“Get yourself anyway you can. I know it is not easy,” Mussleman said. “I am one of the lucky ones. Some people don’t get out alive. Do it quietly. But, just do it. Go with your instincts. If I would’ve done so sooner, I would’ve saved myself a lot of trouble.”
The discussion engaged students and faculty in an often taboo topic that many are not too comfortable talking about.
“It’s good to talk about it,” Mussleman said. “I think it’s important to get experiences out there for people to hear. As someone who has overcome these experiences and taught with accomplishments in my life, it’s an indication that anybody can overcome anything. There are a lot of people like me that don’t share. I wanted to share to show that there are a lot of people similar experiences.”
The Women’s Resource Center will be hosting another event for October Domestic Violence Awareness Month next week. They will be showing Private Violence at 7 p.m. Monday in the Student Center Auditorium, which will be LBC approved.