MSU Safe Place honors Domestic Violence Awareness Month
In light of October being nationally recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, there was a diverse crowd of people at the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum on Oct. 12 attending the Michigan State University Safe Place candlelight vigil to raise awareness and honor those who have battled domestic violence.
Erica Schmittdiel, MSU Safe Place and CARE advocacy coordinator, said the candlelight vigils are important to have every year because it gives Safe Place an opportunity to get the word out and raise awareness during domestic violence awareness month.
“It’s often very hard for people to talk about domestic violence,” Schmittdiel said. “Either they maybe don’t know what to say, they don’t have personal experience with it and it’s an awkward conversation. Or maybe they do have a personal experience with the topic and they’re embarrassed, they’re, you know, feeling like it’s too painful to have these kind of conversations.”
MSU Safe Place, the first and only domestic violence shelter on a college campus in the nation, partnered with the Survivor’s Speakers Bureau to bring survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault to the event to speak about their experiences and encourage others.
Ricarah Riddle, speaker and domestic violence survivor, gave a strong message that encouraged people not to sit in sorrow, but to do something about it.
“I think that the reason I speak out about issues like this is because I never saw it happening to myself,” she said. “And when it happened, I was not prepared and didn’t necessarily know what to do. So, I had to navigate this really awful territory on my own and figure things out.”
Riddle also wants to be of support to those who are fighting this battle.
“I think it’s important once you have the keys and the knowledge and the wherewithal of what to do when you’re in this type of situation to give this information to other people that either have been or may be in the same type of situation,” she said.
When planning this event, MSU Safe Place set out with a goal of giving the opportunity to have a community conversation and make people aware.
“As much as you would like to believe it isn’t true, one in four women will be affected by domestic violence in her lifetime,” Schmittdiel said. “Men are affected as well, as well as non-conforming, non-gender conforming individuals. It really happens to everyone; it’s an equal opportunity destroyer so we need to have these conversations, we need to be talking about domestic violence and what the warning signs are and how to get help.”