Out of the Shadows
Aug. 13, 2014
We all know that being a college student can be challenging. Students face full course loads, different styles of teaching, new people, roommates, being away from home, a new place to live, tests, papers, projects and so much more. Even the greatest college experience has challenges.
What if in addition to those normal challenges, you were dealing with an abusive relationship? Or a stalker? All of a sudden, a hard test or tough professor seem like a minor inconvenience. For anyone—college student or a CEO, rich or poor, male or female, black or white—dealing with relationship violence invades every other aspect of life.
Twenty years ago, administrators at MSU decided that they would do something about it. They decided that no student should ever have to drop out of school because he or she was dealing with a relationship violence issue and no one should have to face it alone.
MSU Safe Place was created. The very first shelter located on a college campus, Safe Place provides emergency shelter, advocacy, counseling, support groups, safety planning, information and referrals to survivors of violence and their minor children. They work with other units on campus to help keep students in school and on track for success. All of their support services are free and confidential. Safe Place also works tirelessly to increase awareness about relationship violence and stalking through community education and outreach efforts.
I wish that no student, no person anywhere, would have to deal with this issue, but, unfortunately, that’s not reality. I’m incredibly proud that my university chose to address the issue to really help people, rather than turning a blind eye to its tragic existence.
Amy Bonomi, chairperson and professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies is an expert in long-term effects of domestic and relationship violence. In her FACULTY VOICE: Why Does She Stay?, she talks about why she is drawn to studying the issue and her philosophy about being a good citizen in the world. She is doing incredibly important work and I have no doubt her legacy will change lives.
Jolisa Brooks is a senior in MSU’s James Madison College. Even at her young age, she is already dedicated to making a difference. Among her many activities and volunteer efforts, she is a peer educator for MSU’s Sexual Assault and Relationship Violence Prevention Program at MSU. She says it’s been one of the greatest experiences of her life. Check out her narrative and video in the STUDENT VIEW: If Not Me, Then Who?, to learn more about this incredibly focused and impressive young woman.
Bonomi says she gets asked why she chooses to study a “depressing” topic. She says she will continue along this line of research until the injustices can no longer be seen, heard or felt.
There are a lot of problems in the world that aren’t pretty and are often depressing—poverty, crime, hunger, disease, social injustice, environmental ruin and more. Some people might find it easier to ignore them or push them into the shadows. But Spartans don’t. They tackle them head on in the hopes of making this world a better place. That’s just what we do.