According to the United States Department Of Justice, domestic violence is defined as “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship, that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power or control over another intimate partner.” Domestic violence can come in the form of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse. Regardless of the form, it can happen to all races, and to all ages. One out of five female high school students are physically and mentally abused by their partners.
While this is a serious issue, it is an issue that does not receive much public attention, because many people say “why doesn’t he or she just leave?” But the statistics clearly show that the public, and more importantly high school students need to be more educated about this topic, so they do not become the victim or the perpetrator.
On Thursday, April 2nd, Dr.Rash held a Domestic Violence Seminar in the auditorium. It was for seniors, but was also open to any sophomore or junior if seats were available.
“I myself have personal experience with the effects of abuse in relationships. I can attest it is bewildering; it’s shocking and sometimes has horribly painful affects. That is why we need to make our student body aware of signs of abuse, where to go for help, how to remove themselves from that relationship and start the healing process, “ said Dr. Rash.
Congressman John Yarmuth kicked off the seminar program with a short speech. He highlighted some of the work he is doing in the community to help spread awareness about domestic violence. “ Healthy relationship are the most important thing to have to focus on in your life,” said Yarmuth. Yarmuth also mentioned the recently passed Violence Against Women Act, which provides transportation, housing, and counseling for victims of domestic violence.
After his speech, the powerpoint presentation was given by Sarah Zarantonello, Coordinator for The Center for Women & Families, and Rus Funk, Executive Director of MensWork. The presentation consisted of examples and information on what a healthy and unhealthy relationship looks like. Zarantonello and Funk even did a skit to challenge the students to see if they could identify who is the victim or perpetrator in the situation. At the end, students were able to ask questions.
“I don’t think I feel more aware about domestic violence, but knowing that it happens more often is important to me, “ said Rachel Minrath (12).
Dr. Rash will not stop here with spreading domestic violence awareness. Next year, he will partner with Center For Women and Families and Menswork to develop the White Ribbons Program. The program was initially started at Menswork to help male victims, but the chapter that will be started here at Manual will be for the young men and women. The goal of the program is to provide students a safe place to go and talk without fear or judgement. It will be a place where victims can become survivors and, since abuse is often generational, have the opportunity to possibly break the cycle of abuse in their own homes. Although Dr.Rash is the founder of the chapter here at Manual, the coordinator will be Mrs. Spiegelhalter. She was best suited for the position, since she teaches the Healthy Relationships class for juniors and seniors.
Dr. Rash hopes that the program will eventually spread throughout JCPS. Congressman John Yarmuth will also be working closely with the program. For more information on how you can be a part of this movement, please visit Dr. Rash in room 206 , or Ms. Spiegelhalter in room 325. To find out more about Menswork and the program, visit www.mensworkinc.com women program or www.thecenteronline.org for The Center for Women and Families.