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Shelter pursues greater domestic violence awareness

October 2, 2000

October may be Domestic Violence Awareness Month, but even MSU Safe Place director Holly Rosen admits the month could be better publicized.

Rosen said Safe Place, a shelter for targets of domestic violence, has not been doing as much advertising for the month as usual, causing many off-campus students to be unaware of the month.

“I’m not surprised by it,” Rosen said. “We do more programming and get the word out to students who live in the residence halls.”

In its broadest sense, domestic violence encompasses any assault made upon someone by their partner.

“In 95 percent of domestic violence cases a woman is the victim and a man is the assailant,” said Holly Seymour of the Council Against Domestic Assault.

According to a 1998 report issued by the U.S. Department of Justice, an estimated 960,000 incidents of violence occur against a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend every year.

Of these cases, women between the ages of 16 and 24 experienced the highest rates of intimate violence.

Fortunately, for those who have been targets of domestic violence, there is help available.

In 1994, Joanne McPherson, wife of MSU President M. Peter McPherson, took on the issue of domestic violence by opening Safe Place.

“The shelter in Lansing was full and so they denied shelter to victims,” Rosen said. “Joanne McPherson didn’t want that to happen here.”

Rosen said Safe Place offers more than just a place to stay.

“We offer support groups, one-on-one counseling, advocacy programs, programs for children who have been abused and a 24-hour crisis line,” she said.

In 1996, Capital Area Response Effort (CARE) was founded in an effort to help area police departments in their fight against domestic violence. CARE counselors work with domestic violence survivors to get them the help that they need.

“A group of service providers felt there was a need for something like this (CARE) in the community that would directly help victims of domestic violence,” CARE community education director Jennifer Lawton said.

Still another organization designated to helping survivors of domestic violence is the Council Against Domestic Assault.

To further educate the public, CADA, CARE and MSU Safe Place will be involved in advocacy programs throughout the month of October. A candlelight vigil is scheduled from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Oct. 26 in the rose garden of Francis Park, 2600 Moores River Drive in Lansing. Also, the Clothesline Project, a project where survivors of domestic violence design T-shirts for exhibit, will be shown at the District Court today and also at Sparrow Hospital, 1215 E. Michigan Ave., on Oct. 18.

Despite off-campus activities, some students feel that MSU could do more to educate the university about domestic violence and the options available to survivors.

“(The university) should bring in speakers encouraging students to become involved in (MSU) Safe Place and making students aware of their options,” criminal justice senior Jennifer Reed said. “I think it’s important for students to know what opportunities are available.”

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