A breeze containing the cool nip of autumn stirs piles of golden and red leaves across the quiet area between the Cate Center and the Science and Math Building (SMB). Sitting on the grass beneath the grey clouds are 36 chairs, each one representing a victim of domestic violence homicides in North Carolina so far this calendar year. Thirty-four of the chairs have photos of the victims taped to them, while two teddy bears sit in the front row to represent two child victims.
In October of 1987, Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) was launched nationwide and has been honored every October for over 30 years since. To raise awareness, the students from Dr. Kris Macomber’s gender and violence class put together the exhibit.
The class is taught each fall semester, and Macomber said she encourages her students to raise awareness on the topics they discuss in class. Since October is DVAM, she suggests that her students do something visible on campus to educate the community.
“There’s a domestic violence homicide list that the state coalition keeps updated every year. So I offer as a suggestion that they take the list and use it to honor the victims in some way,” she said.
A group of five students decided to draw attention to the growing number of homicides each year in North Carolina resulting from domestic violence by placing chairs in front of the Cate Center and having the photos and names of each victim.
“When we first began our investigation, there were 24 victims. As of the date of our display, there were 36 in North Carolina,” said Jessica Dedho-Doradea, ’23, one of the five students who worked on the project.
Domestic violence is defined as “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another” by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).
The exhibit also contained a sheet explaining domestic violence, the common signs of an abusive partner, information and resources, and facts. According to the sheet, every 1 in 5 college women report physical violence, and intimate partner violence accounts for 15% of all violent crimes.
“It is important to raise awareness on topics like these because they are not discussed enough. Many resources can help anyone in these situations, and it’s important to spread that information to offer these resources and show others what is happening around them,” said Dedho-Doradea. “Domestic Violence can be seen in different forms, and there is a high risk of ending in a homicide.”
The project was on display for three days, until Thursday, October 27.
“I think because violence impacts so many people’s lives, it’s simultaneously common, and it’s considered normalized in our culture, but it’s something that shouldn’t be. It’s something that we should take very seriously. Everybody knows someone who’s been impacted by domestic violence. It’s a really challenging problem to address,” said Macomber.
If you or someone you know is a victim of domestic violence, you can call the domestic violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233.