If you heard someone degrade another person, would you say something? What if they were yelling? What if they hit the person? What makes one form of abuse less socially tolerated than another?”People assume a situation has to be violent before they intervene,” Samantha Clouse, Genesis House primary prevention educator, said. “That’s not true though.”
Clouse is scheduled to lead a seminar titled “Respond-ability: Intervene before It’s a Scene” at 11 a.m. Tuesday in RUC Room 342. The event, presented in collaboration with the Women’s Center, is free and open to the public.
“Often people know they’re supposed to do something,” Clouse said, “but don’t know what that something is.”
The presentation is structured to teach people about safe intervention, and encourages attendees to work towards changing the social norm of minding your own business when witnessing abuse.
“When situations arise, people sometimes don’t react because they fear what others will do,” Clouse said. “If we all intervened, we wouldn’t need shelters anymore because we would all be treated equally.
“I think college aged people are more likely to get involved.”
Clouse offered advice to those trying to help an abused person.
“The first thing to do as a friend is to believe them. Too often these things come down to victim blaming. Second, listen. Don’t push your opinion or try to make them talk. Third, if they’re responsive, try to make them get help. Don’t push too hard though, or it might discourage them instead.”
Diana Lalani, Women’s Center secretary, said, “Given a chance to rationalize, people realize that they could help, wanted to help, but didn’t know how to help. It’s a bit of a self-discovery process.”
Information on abuse and violence is always available at the Women’s Center, and Lalani is available to speak with students about any problems they may be having. If the severity is beyond her capabilities or the problem out of her realm, Lalani refers students to the Genesis House, located east of campus on Ninth Street.
All services from the Genesis House are free and available to any woman who requests them. While it does not offer the same services to men, Genesis House will assist men in other ways and refer them to other organizations and agencies that can help.
Genesis House has a hotline available to discuss domestic violence, sexual assault or if a caller just needs someone to listen. Services for women include a domestic violence shelter. Women from any area are welcome to stay at the shelter with their children when trying to overcome domestic abuse. Court advocacy is offered to support women emotionally but not legally. Rape counseling is available with referral to outside sources if needed. A rape and sexual assault center with a nurse on call 24 hours a day offers confidential medical attention to victims.
For more information, call the Women’s Center at 931-372-3850, or call the Genesis House at 931-526-5197.