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Students Promote Domestic Violence Awareness

You may receive candy from a student on the UTC campus, and attached to the candy will be a purple ribbon, a symbol of domestic violence awareness. It is one of the ways students will observe the first-ever UTC Domestic Violence Awareness Week, from November 10-14.

“The week has been designed to inform the university community about the reality of domestic violence and the rate that it occurs not only nationwide, but also in Hamilton County,” according to Matt Ashworth, one of the student organizers.

On Monday, November 10, The Clothesline Project, a display of T-shirts representing victims of domestic violence will be presented beginning at 11 a.m. in the student park on campus, located across from the Lupton Library. A proclamation for the week will be announced at 11:45 a.m. by Barb Conforti, project director of The Transformation Project, a campus program dedicated to the education and prevention of domestic violence (see story below).

On Tuesday, November 11, students will distribute flyers with local and national statistics on domestic violence.

On Tuesday, November 18, at 2p.m., there will be a presentation and discussion on the housing problems of victims of domestic violence and abuse. It will be held at the conference room at The Salvation Army at 800 McCallie Avenue. Parking is available at the Doctors Building next door. This free program is open to all, and it is sponsored by The Chattanooga Area Fair Housing Roundtable and Legal Aid of East Tennessee.

Transformation Project Provides New Campus Resource

Students and faculty at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga now have a new place to turn on campus for information and assistance on domestic and sexual violence.

The Transformation Project, a program of the UTC Women’s Center, was created after the university received a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to combat violence against women on campus. Since 1999, the federal government has awarded over $25 million to colleges and universities to help combat sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking on the nation’s campuses.

“In March, the Transformation Project was established to provide educational opportunities, awareness, and advocacy and referral services for faculty, staff and students. UTC is fortunate to have such a program as most universities in America don’t have the resources needed to address the issue of violence against women,” said Barbara Conforti, program director. “Women within the age group of 16 to 24 are at the greatest risk of sexual assault,” Conforti said. “Men in the same range are more apt to commit sexual assault.”

As most college students fall within this age group, it is becoming more important for college officials to take proactive roles in trying to assist possible victims of domestic and sexual violence. Information and referral services are currently the most common forms of assistance the Transformation Project currently provides, according to Conforti. As more people learn about the program, support services provided to victims and survivors of abuse are expected to rise.

“What we see most often on campus is abusive tactics being used within a dating relationship,” Conforti said. “So, we need to focus on ‘relationship’ violence rather than what we tend to think of as ‘domestic’ violence. The dynamic and abusive tactics may take on different dynamics due to the type of relationship, as well as the age. We want to get the community talking about these issues to help transform how the campus responds.”

Over 30 UTC students recently took part in an exercise where they were placed in “real-life” situations where women were domestically abused. Small groups were given choices of how to respond. They included where to turn for assistance, finding a place to stay and how to overcome personal and cultural difficulties that may complex the situation.

“I think it was an eye opening experience for some of them,” Conforti said. “What you (as a victim) may think is the best place to turn may actually be the worst.”

Transformation Project staff are available for presentations to student groups on dating violence, stalking and sexual assault. It is a great tool for dorm students, Greek organizations, honor societies and freshman seminar classes, Conforti said.

For more information on the Transformation Project, call 425-5605 or e-mail Conforti at