Beloit Domestic Violence Survivor Center comes to campus
On Wednesday, November 1st, Beloit Domestic Violence Survivor Center (BDVSC) held an event in Java Joint that aimed to simulate the struggles that many survivors of domestic violence face when trying to access resources.
Helena Rose’19 was one of the main forces in bringing BDVSC to campus. “It’s a simulator event,” she explained. “It shows how survivors interact with different services and how difficult [accessing those services] can be.” BDVSC directly reached out to Rose, as she is the Community Service Chair for Theta Pi Gamma, and has worked directly with the organization since last spring.
“Participants get one of two situations. They are either trying to leave an abusive relationship that has lasted 3 years and with two children, or they are trying to leave an abusive relationship that has lasted 20 years with no children” said Rose. Then, the participant is given a list of things they need to attain in order to gain freedom such as income, housing, mental health support, physical health support, social support, safety, and child care. Each table set up by BDVSC has a few of the components on the list, and the participant chooses a random envelop
e. More often than not, the envelope will not contain what is needed, and the simulated survivor must either come back or move on to a new table. Once the participant finally attains everything on their list, they are able to go to the center table, where the center provided informational handouts and and small purple booklets entitled “Love Doesn’t Have to Hurt! Information and Resources for Surviving Domestic Violence.”
“The whole event is in response to the common question […] of ‘Why don’t they leave the relationship?’” says Rose. “There’s varying levels of knowledge when it comes to domestic violence on this campus, but something really important to know is that leaving the [abusive] relationship is the most dangerous part for the survivor. That’s a very crucial time, and a lot of the systems set up to support victims can be really flawed. [Leaving] can be incomprehensible and is ridiculously difficult.”
Many of the problems that students faced while participating in the simulation were realistic. When choosing an envelope from the housing table, more often than not, a slip inside the envelope would read: “There is a nine month waiting list. Try again later.” Or when a participant went to the food shelf table, the slip in the envelope usually read: “Our hours don’t work with your schedule. Come back later.” Many people also struggled at the police table, and found they could not always receive the protection they needed. “Something important to know in Wisconsin is that there is a mandatory arrest law for domestic violence cases” says Rose. “When police get called they have to arrest either the person who called or the person that the call is about. Sometimes victims are arrested instead of [abusers].”
In addition to the simulation itself, there were several staff members from Beloit Domestic Violence Center available to answer questions, as well as additional materials for students to take home. Most people who showed up to Java Joint ended up engrossed in the “Love Doesn’t Have to Hurt!” booklet, which explained some of the more unknown facts about domestic violence. Not only did the booklet provide a breakdown of laws against specific types of domestic violence, it also provided a checklist to help survivors analyze and decide how to leave their situations in the safest way possible.
Beloit Domestic Violence Survivor Center was pleased with the turnout, especially when considering that the event took place on the same day as Advising Practicum. “Everyone who participated thought it was informative” reported Rose. She is continuing to work with BDVSC, and hopes to have the same event on a much larger scale by the end of this semester.
For students who are looking to get more involved, Beloit Domestic Violence Survivor Center is always looking for volunteers and donations for their survivor shelter and crisis hotline. If you would like to contribute, or have any questions regarding domestic violence and abuse, visit their website at https://www.statelinefamilyservices.org/beloit-domestic-violence-survivor-center-1 or call 608-364-1083.