Oswego State observes national awareness month

Students and faculty at Oswego State are advocating for National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Month throughout the month of February by holding informative events and programs.

Dating violence is physical, sexual, psychological or emotional violence within a dating relationship, including stalking, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

According to the National Coalition Against Dating Violence, one in three women and one in four men will experience relationship violence in their lifetime.

Oswego State’s Title IX Coordinator, Lisa Evaneski has been working with students and colleagues to decrease this number by holding events, such as several One Love Foundation Escalation workshops, since November 2015.

“We believe that by participating in prevention efforts that our students are learning skills that will improve their current or future relationships and have an impact in their communities,” Evaneski said.

Evaneski said these workshops have informed approximately 1,000 students and employees of the warning signs of an abusive relationship and ways to prevent escalation from happening as a bystander.

Evaneski assessed students last year after the workshops and found that 81 percent of students understood emotional abuse more than before they attended the workshop and 18 percent of the students understood the same as before attending the workshop. The next workshop will be held on March 21 and students can sign up for it on the Lakerlife webpage.

Breck Donohue, a sophomore at Oswego State, attended a One Love Foundation Escalation workshop in August. He said everyone should recognize when a friend or even a stranger is involved in an unhealthy relationship and to take a step further, do something.

“The most important thing is to raise awareness simply because you do become more perceptive of the warning signs,” Donohue said. “You also have to very much emphasize changing the mentality behind how people act as bystanders, because a lot of people just go about their lives and ignore it.”

Students at Oswego State may not be familiar with the number of resources they have in regards to dating violence education and prevention. A list of options can be found in the Annual Security and Fire Safety report issued by Oswego State University Police and Dean of Students office. One of those options includes Services to Aid Families (SAF).

SAF is a program by Oswego County Opportunities where survivors of dating violence, domestic abuse, sexual assault and other forms of violence can go for assistance and empowerment.

SAF Advocate/Educator, Kelsey Gillett, works with Evaneski and Mary Walker Health Center to serve as an on-campus resource for victims of dating violence and for information regarding it.

“Everybody’s journey to healing is going to be different,” Gillett said. “Everybody’s relationship is different, so all of our processes are completely driven by that victim or survivor, what they want, what they need, and what they’re ready for.”

Gillett’s position as a SAF advocate and educator was created last year from the result of the New York grant, Enough is Enough. Since her position was added, she takes part in programs and events to help communicate the importance of recognizing the signs of dating violence and bystander intervention.

“Nobody deserves to be put down,” Gillett said. “Nobody deserves to feel badly. It’s not your fault if you are in an unhealthy relationship.”