Bruises, scars, broken hearts, low self-esteem and name-calling. These are all possible consequences of domestic violence and, believe it or not, it happens everywhere, even here at Cabrini.
Domestic violence can be defined as one partner or ex-partner attempting abuse the other. It can be mental, physical or emotional abuse.
“We have to come to terms with the fact it’s a problem here,” Amy DeBlasis, English instructor, said. “It’s a problem on every campus, not just Cabrini.”
Amy DeBlasis is not only an English instructor, but she also teaches a Seminar 300 course on domestic violence. Cabrini has a partnership with Laurel House, which is a domestic violence shelter in Montgomery County. Students who take this course have the opportunity to go through a domestic violence training program and then will be certified to work in domestic violence shelters.
“It’s real life experience. You have certification and it applies to everyone, because we all have relationships,” DeBlasis said.
Eighteen students in the class this semester were given a random survey about their experiences with domestic violence on campus. Twelve out of the 18 students indicated they know someone on Cabrini’s campus who is suffering from domestic violence.
Most individuals link domestic violence to women. Statistics indicate that 15 percent of victims are indeed male.
“The guys in the class see it’s not just a woman’s issue. We can educate people more, if we can bring men on board,” Tommie Wilkins, Director of Volunteer Services and Community Education of Laurel House, said. Wilkins works alongside of DeBlasis throughout the course of the semester.
Other staff at Cabrini, also recognize the severity of the issue.
“I would address the situation promptly and report it to the authorities. This is a very serious matter, not just for a coach but for the police,” Greg Herenda, head men’s basketball coach, said.
“Domestic violence should be addressed on a much higher level. If a student’s safety is in danger, I’m obligated to report it,” Steve Colfer, head men’s lacrosse coach, said. “It’s the judicial system and the college standards they are violating.”
According to the Cabrini community standards, intentionally inflicting, attempting to inflict or conspiring to inflict bodily or mental harm upon any person will result in a range of sanctions from disciplinary probation up to and including expulsion.
There is counseling offered at Cabrini for students who feel they are victims. By law, the counselors must maintain a student’s privacy and confidentiality and can only breach confidentiality in the event that a student is a danger to self, others or in the event of child abuse.
“We at counseling services are available for free and confidential counseling on a variety of issues, including domestic violence,” Sara T. Maggitti, Psy. D., director of counseling services, wrote in an e-mail to Loquitur. “If a student presents our office with relationship violence issues, we can either provide short-term psychotherapy here on campus or help facilitate a referral to an off-campus provider.”
Students who don’t feel comfortable talking with someone personally, should consider taking the domestic violence course. The course isn’t a one-on-one situation. It is a chance for students to discuss domestic violence casually with people who may or may not have experience with abuse in any way.
“It should be a required course. It’s so unknown and you learn so much just from one semester,” Christina Romano, junior elementary education major, said.
“It helps you to become aware of signs of domestic violence,” Tripp Durham, senior business administration major, said. “It shows you what to watch out for.”
Cabrini is the only campus to offer a domestic violence training program. DeBlasis feels overall, Cabrini is doing a good job responding to the issue. Domestic violence is happening on campus, but with the help of raising consciousness and awareness, there is always a way out.
“You don’t deserve this,” Wilkins said. “And there is hope for you.”