Events Honor National Domestic Violence Awareness Month

(PHOTO: Nick Russett)

By Aileen Perilla

The UCF community will remember the lives of domestic violence victims during its 8th annual Light Up the Night event Monday, Oct. 12, at 6 p.m. in the Pegasus Ballroom of the Student Union.

The event, which coincides with Domestic Violence Awareness Month, is meant to encourage people to talk about the taboo subject of domestic violence and get a better idea of the impact this crime has not only on the victims, but the entire community.

“Relationship abuse affects everyone,” says Sarah Laake, assistant director of UCF Victim Services, which sponsors the event each year. “It could be a professor, someone in your study group, a relative, the person next to you in the library. We encourage anyone and everyone to join us at Light Up the Night to learn how abuse impacts our community and honor Knights who have lost their lives to intimate partner violence.”

During the program, attendees will see a ceremony called “An Empty Place at the Table,” set up to honor at least seven people with UCF ties who have died as a result of intimate partner violence. It’s meant to shine light on the deadly effects of abuse and memorialize domestic violence victims, Laake says.

Attendees also will hear from two survivors of domestic violence, as well as from Tomas Lares, founder of Florida Abolitionist. The organization’s mission is to end all forms of human trafficking in the U.S. Lares will speak about intimate partner violence and its close relation to human trafficking. Orlando Police Officer William Powell will speak about the use of technology in relation to stalking and how police respond to domestic violence calls.

More than 13 campus and community organizations that serve victims of domestic abuse will also have tables at the event to answer questions and provide resources.

UCF Light up the Night is just one of several events planned this month to keep the conversation about domestic violence going. Others include:

  • The Clothesline Project, a national effort to give survivors of domestic abuse an opportunity to express their emotions by decorating a T-shirt. Everyone is encouraged to decorate T-shirts as a way to show their support of domestic violence prevention. Tables with decorating supplies will be available at Victim Services’ Market Day booth in front of the Student Union every Wednesday this month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and the shirts will be hung inside the Student Union throughout October.
  • Paint it Purple, hosted by UCF Victim Services and SafeHouse of Seminole, will take place Wednesday, Oct. 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the Student Union. A “Purple Party” booth will be set up to provide information and freebies to students, as well as to raise awareness about intimate partner violence.
  • My Costume is Not My Consent, also hosted by UCF Victim Services, is happening Wednesday, Oct. 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in front of the Student Union. This event is intended to start a conversation with students and to remind everyone that, no matter how revealing a Halloween costume may be, it’s not an invitation to skip out on consent.

UCF partners, Harbor House of Central Florida, SafeHouse of Seminole and Help Now of Osceola, also are hosting domestic violence awareness month events across our community. Visit their websites to learn more.

UCF Victim Services provides 24/7 support for those impacted by crime or abuse. Speak with an advocate at any time by calling its hotline, at 407.823.1200.

This story was published Oct. 9, 2015, on UCF Today. It has been edited. See original article.