For the past two weeks, we’ve been working hard on doing secondary research and immersing ourselves in the space of domestic violence. Last week, in addition to our regular Sunday meetings, we also met to watch a documentary together – Private Violence, which explores the complicated and terrifying reality of intimate partner violence in America, with a specific focus on North Carolina. The documentary was amazing at highlighting how domestic violence is an issue that’s often rendered invisible while exposing the systemic problems that protect abusers and blame victims. While difficult to watch, it forced us to challenge our assumptions about victims and their difficulty in leaving such relationships.
We’ve been diving into research on the topic, starting with general topics that we wanted to understand better such as: the psychological stages in the cycle of abuse, the escape process for victims, ways to identify an abusive relationship, the various types of abuse, the power and control dynamics in unbalanced relationships, and local statistics and policies (how North Carolina defines domestic violence and the types of charges abusers face).
After watching the documentary together, we’ve also been looking into how police are trained to identify domestic violence or how they are taught to act in the situations, the evidence that trials require and the effectiveness of restraining orders, what the root of domestic violence may be, as well as the role of advocates.
In addition to secondary research, we’ve also been attending campus and community events about domestic violence. October is actually Domestic Violence Awareness Month! The Durham Crisis Response Center is having an event tomorrow on domestic violence in communities of faith that a few of our members are planning on attending.Our Women’s Center has also had a variety of gender violence awareness events planned this month on topics such as reporting gender violence and supporting survivors that we’ve been attending.
It’s full steam ahead for us and our immersion – we’ve been interviewing in the past week and have multiple interviews with experts planned for the next week. Although our problem space is intense and oftentimes overwhelming, the further we immerse ourselves, the more we realize how massive the problem of domestic violence and abuse is, and the more passionate we are about this topic.