In Her Shoes: Living With Domestic Violence
An Interactive Event for Domestic Violence Awareness Month
by Marie Jacinto
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Domestic violence and dating abuse are difficult to talk about, and, unfortunately, way too many people still consider these topics taboo—too personal to be discussed openly. Domestic violence-prevention advocates, social media, and other forms of popular culture are helping to change that.
Take Netflix’s popular show “Maid,” based on Stephanie Land’s memoir, “Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive.” This series does an excellent job of showing how insidious domestic abuse can be: how an abuser can control his victim through fear without direct physical violence and how a victim may feel financially stuck in an abusive relationship without the support of family and friends. “Maid” also points out how domestic violence can span generations.
The most alarming facet of domestic abuse is how common it is. Did you know as many as one in four women and one in seven men have been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner? Domestic violence is defined as a pattern of abusive behavior used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner. The unspoken truth about domestic violence is that it’s preventable.
To help raise awareness around this all-too-common problem, UHD is hosting “In Her Shoes: Living with Domestic Violence” on Oct. 13, 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m., UHD A300. This scenario-based, interactive activity is designed to help participants talk and learn about domestic violence. Participants will become characters, make choices about their relationships, and see what happens. “In Her Shoes” provides a snapshot of violent and coercive relationships based on real-life stories. The experience generates a thoughtful discussion about what happens in unhealthy relationships and what opportunities exist to support those experiencing them. Refreshments will be provided for participants.
Family violence is unfortunately all around us—it may be taking place in the home next door, or one of your students, classmates, professors, or co-workers may be in an abusive relationship. Too often, victims think no one will believe them. You can help by knowing the signs and being available to listen. No one deserves to be abused, and everyone deserves to feel safe. Check out the “How Can I Help?” section below for information about how to spot domestic violence in your own or another relationship, and what steps to take to help a friend or loved one in an abusive relationship.
For more information about the “In Her Shoes” event or if you have domestic violence concerns, contact UHD’s Title IX Officer Lauri Ruiz, RuizLa@uhd.edu or 713-221-5771, or stop by the Office of Title IX / Equal Opportunity Services.
How Can I Help?
There are many signs of an abusive relationship, including when an intimate partner:
- Hurts or threatens his/her partner;
- Criticizes or humiliates his/her partner;
- Creates fear and intimidation;
- Acts jealous or controlling;
- Threatens to hurt or take children away; and
- Tries to limit time with family or friends.
If you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, you can help them through the three “Rs”:
- RECOGNIZE Listen empathetically and ask about physical and emotional abuse.
- RESPOND Accept and validate. Help the person document the abuse and maintain confidences.
- REFER Contact law enforcement if necessary and call resources for help. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is 800.799.SAFE (7233).
- VALIDATE by saying “I believe you” and “You don’t deserve this” as frequently as you can.
- MAINTAIN confidentiality.
- REFER the survivor to a professional and offer to accompany him/her.
- DOCUMENT what the survivor tells you.
- GIVE ADVICE.
- OFFER MEDIATION as a solution.
- QUESTION his/her story or experience.
The University of Houston-Downtown (UHD) is the second-largest university in Houston and has served the educational needs of the nation’s fourth-largest city since 1974. As one of four distinct public universities in the University of Houston System, UHD is a comprehensive, four-year university led by President Loren J. Blanchard. Annually, UHD educates approximately 14,000 students, boasts more than 66,000 alumni, and offers 45 bachelor’s degrees, 12 master’s degrees, and 19 online programs within four colleges: Marilyn Davies College of Business, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, College of Public Service, and College of Sciences and Technology. UHD has one of the lowest tuition rates in Texas.
U.S. News and World Report ranked UHD among the nation’s Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Applied Administration and Best Online Master’s Programs in Criminal Justice, as well as a Top Performer in Social Mobility. The Wall Street Journal/College Pulse ranked UHD one of the best colleges in the U.S. for its 2024 rankings, with notable distinctions: No. 1 for diversity (tied) and No. 3 for student experience. The University is designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institution, a Minority-Serving Institution, and a Military Friendly School. For more information on the University of Houston-Downtown, visit uhd.edu.