DuBOIS, Pa. — Oftentimes, some of the most impactful statements we hear are those that come from someone who experiences something firsthand. On Wednesday, Oct. 18, students, faculty and staff gathered at the Schoch Plaza on the campus of Penn State DuBois to take part in a victimology event in which they heard firsthand testimonials from victims of domestic and sexual abuse. The goal of the event was to educate the campus community, provide a voice to victims and survivors, encourage others to report abuse when it happens, and to seek help when they need it.
Victimology is the study of the psychological effects of a crime on a person. It also examines the relationship between victims and offenders. The goal is to find patterns and tendencies that would allow for better understanding, education and prevention of crime and abuse, said the participants.
October is domestic violence awareness month, an effort to raise awareness of domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, throughout the nation. Organized by Selena Price, lecturer and program coordinator of criminal justice at Penn State DuBois, and students in the criminal justice program, this year marked the second consecutive year that this event has taken place on campus.
“I hold this impactful event to not only spread awareness on domestic violence and sexual assault, but to also encourage victims and survivors to report their victimization and to show them where they can seek help,” Price said.
After a brief introduction to the event, students in attendance took turns reading testimonials from unidentified victims and survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. Many of the testimonials shared feelings of pain, helplessness, depression and anger. As each testimonial was read, others in the crowd silently reflected, many of them moved emotionally by what they were hearing. But hearing these words is something that Price said is important.
“You never know who might be listening and needing to hear that someone else is going through the same thing,” Price said. “Ending the silence can possibly end the violence.”
Many of the testimonials did give a positive reflection upon the services that are available in the greater area surrounding Penn State DuBois. Representatives from the Community Action Inc. Crossroads Project and Passages Inc. were both on hand to share information on the services they provide to victims and survivors of multiple types of abuse.
“This event is a wonderful event for students to come out and learn firsthand, from these testimonies, what a survivor has been through and how they have prevailed,” Rebecca Misko, crossroads coordinator, Community Action Inc. Crossroads Project, said. “This event also teaches them empathy. In today’s world, that is something that isn’t always there.”
Misko also noted the importance empathy has for any of the students who attended who might work in this type of career field one day.
Many of the students in attendance were those in the criminal justice and human development and family studies programs, both of which can help prepare individuals to work in assistance and advocacy programs to help victims of abuse.
“One day these students will be working in the field and more than likely they will come across someone who has been victimized,” Price said. “I want them to remember what they read or heard today, to have empathy and to listen.”
“Events like these are important to bring light to a subject that is often dark,” Robin McMillen, Passages Inc. legal advocate said. “We want everyone to know that victims have support, either within their families, friends or within the community.”
The Community Action, Inc. Crossroads Project helps domestic violence victims and their children remain safe by providing emergency shelter, a 24-hour hotline, community and school educational programs, options counseling, legal advocacy, and group support in Clearfield and Jefferson counties.
Passages Inc. is a sexual violence agency serving Clarion, Clearfield and Jefferson counties. The organization provides a 24-hour hotline, counseling, legal advocacy, medical advocacy, and prevention and educational services throughout the area it serves.
Victim resources are available for all Penn State students who have experienced abuse. More information about victim resources at Penn State DuBois can be found here.