"Why Victims Stay"

October 6, 2014

After the release of a video showing an NFL player knocking his fiancé unconscious, many wondered how such an abusive relationship could continue. The "Why I stayed" Twitter hashtag soon went viral, offering powerful insight into a variety of reasons from fear and low self-esteem to control and hope that an abuser can change.

"Why Victims Stay" will be the focus of a community education event from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 8, at Harper College. It will take place in J Theatre in Building J on the College's main campus, 1200 W. Algonquin Road in Palatine.

The free program, which marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month and is open to the public, is being put on by the Northwest Suburban Alliance on Domestic Violence, the Human Services Programs of Harper College and Judson University with the help of state Sen. Matt Murphy.

"I've been working in human services since the 1980s, and while I think professionals have a much higher aptitude to help, the reality is that victims don't go to professionals at first," Assistant Professor Valerie Walker said. "They go to their friends, their family, their church. Educating those groups is where we need to make more of an impact."

The educational event will include a student-led performance of "Blanketed by Blame, Empowered by Support," a widely known skit that aims to increase awareness about the complicated ways communities experience and deal with domestic violence. An interdisciplinary panel featuring an advocate, an immigration professional and law enforcement will also lead a discussion.

The Clothesline Project, an exhibit that bears witness to violence against women, will be on display along with Blue Kids, an organization committed to keeping children safe.

While organizers chose "Why Victims Stay" as the topic months ago, Walker said the theme is especially timely given recent headlines.

"This program will benefit anybody who will ever be in a relationship," Walker said. "It's important to know what a healthy relationship does and doesn't look like, and to stop the blaming of victims."

Kameron Hill, president of Harper's Human Services Club, will facilitate the program. She's completing an associate degree in human services with a focus in domestic violence.

The event is free and open to the public, but space is limited. Register at nwsadv2014.eventbrite.com.

Press contact: Kim Pohl, Media Relations Manager, 847.925.6159