PR Class, Vista Maria Partner For Domestic Abuse Awareness
Published April 3, 2012 • 1 comment
Students in Susan Sheth’s Public Relations Campaigns class have partnered with Vista Maria for Sexual and Domestic Abuse Awareness Week, April 2 through 6.
The week’s activities stem from the students’ semester-long project with Vista Maria and are meant to bring awareness to the all-too-real problems of sexual and domestic abuse.
“Domestic abuse isn’t something that’s talked about or that people are really open to supporting,” said senior Maya Younis, a student in COMM 460. “People don’t really want to jump on that campaign because they don’t want to confront the reality that it happens.”
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), one in four women will experience domestic violence in her lifetime, but most cases of domestic violence are never reported to the police. Women aged 20-24 are at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence, but children suffer as well. An estimated 30% to 60% of perpetrators of intimate partner violence also abuse children in the household.
“When women and young girls live with domestic violence in their homes, and parental protection from harm is limited, the risk of being physically or sexually abused increases dramatically,” says Bea Preece, another student in the 460 class. “In severe cases, women have lost their lives.”
Vista Maria, established in 1883, is a nonprofit that works with high-risk girls and children. The organization primarily serves adolescent girls ages 11 to 17 and provides services such as shelter, education, counseling, and rehabilitation – resources victims of assault, abuse, neglect, and trauma need to rebuild their lives.
As the Vista Maria website says, victims of domestic sexual abuse come into their care “with low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness, a distorted view of sex and many have suicidal thoughts. Others show symptoms of depression, isolation, self-harming, self-medicating or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.”
Like the slogan for the Awareness Week says – abuse doesn’t always leave visible signs.
“Unfortunately, this is a serious problem and people don’t take it seriously,” says Younis. “I feel our generation likes to make fun of everything, which is why you have people making Chris Brown jokes. As a result, the seriousness of this issue isn’t catching on.”
The week’s events start with a flash mob on the UC Stage at 12:30 p.m. on Monday. Students will be passing out candy and sharing information about Vista Maria on Tuesday. An Abuse Expo will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday in 1225 UC, with a Vista Maria representative speaking from 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. Food will be served for those attending the speech.
WUMD will be broadcasting programming about Vista Maria, domestic abuse, and related topics on Wednesday and Thursday.
The week will culminate Friday in a fundraiser at BlackFinn American Saloon in Royal Oak. The event starts at 8:00 p.m., and contributions can be made directly to Vista Maria. Those who purchase a wristband (with all money from wristband sales going directly to Vista) can take advantage of $4 you-call-its until 11:00 p.m.
Throughout the week, the students encourage everyone to speak up about abuse on Facebook and Twitter. It is their goal to make #RebuildingLivesUMD a trending topic.
All events are open to the public. For more information, visit the UM-D for Vista Maria Facebook page or follow them on twitter @UMD4Vista. To learn more about Vista Maria or to donate or volunteer, visit www.vistamaria.org.