Today: Apr 23, 2024

VPAS helps domestic violence victims find support

Brianna Wallen- News Editor

College students are one of the most vulnerable populations, especially regarding domestic violence according to Domestic Shelters.org,. 

To combat the threat of domestic abuse, there are safety resources on campus to help survivors and students seeking support. The main organization is the Violence Prevention, Victim Advocacy, And Support Center, or VPAS.  

Through the provision of victim advocacy, education on violence prevention and support services, VPAS is dedicated to fostering a respectful and safe campus community. The organization’s goal is to address sexual misconduct and highlight healthy relationships to educate students.  

The organization hosts events to reach their goal. Their latest event was in the Adanti Student Center on March 6 at 1 p.m. The event educated participants on signs of domestic abuse.  

Apart from their events, their office is in Schwartz Hall. Their cozy office area offers anything from condoms to counseling for students. Residents who live at the hall take special advantage of the office. 

Healthcare studies with a minor in Spanish Kalangi Pedro, a sophomore, is a Schwartz resident who visits the office often. 

“I went to VPAS because although I am not a victim of sexual violence, I’d love to be educated enough on the topic that if any incident were to occur in my surroundings, as a bystander I’d want to be able to do the right thing correctly,” Pedro said.  

Other students have also taken the opportunity to be a part of the organization’s cause. One of these is biology major Clarisse Aminawung, a junior. Aminawung has been a Peer Educator at VPAS for three years since she began during her freshman year of college. 

Aminawung joined due to her desire to get involved and help her community.  

“Our work on campus is really important. To be a support resource for students and to educate students on important issues has honestly been an honor,” Aminawung said. 

By being a part of the organization, Aminawung has seen her job’s mission manifest its way on campus. Specifically, through certain events such as the “Take Back the Night” event that can help survivors that have experienced abuse or assault.  

“I feel it truly gives back to the students,” Aminawung said. “It allows survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence to have a safe and supportive environment to take back their voices and speak out about their experiences.” 

Their recognition continues to grow and major sub-groups on campus have been positively impacted by their cause. 

“In the past, we have held discussions with athletes on healthy and unhealthy relationship signs, and the feedback we received from the athletes really shows that they appreciated our presentations and have taken something away from them,” Aminawung said.  

VPAS not only benefits survivors or students, it helps staff members as well. 

“It’s just been an overall rewarding experience, educating myself and educating other students on information to help them decide what choices are best for them in certain situations and to provide support and encouragement for them,” Aminawung said. 

Highlighting the existence of sexual assault and domestic violence on campus helps survivors be seen and allows prevention plans to be installed. 

“Not only that, but talking about violence on campus helps students know to step in and prevent violence from occurring,” Pedro said.  

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