Social Work graduate student Krysten González, standing in a huddled group of about 20 students in East Quad Residence Hall Wednesday night, captivated the audience with a simple line: “Domestic violence does not discriminate.”

González is an intern at the SafeHouse Center, which provides support for Washtenaw County victims of domestic violence. González and a colleague led a discussion Wednesday about domestic violence and the importance of educating the community on the epidemic.

The event was sponsored by the South Asian Awareness Network, in observation of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The talk focused on different types of abuse — verbal, emotional, economic, sexual and physical — and how individuals can cope with abuse.

“The most at-risk age group for women is ages 16 through 24, and that’s a lot of undergraduates — even some graduate students — so it’s really important to get the message out there: what this is, what you can do and what resources are available to you,” González said.

LSA junior Shaina Shetty, education and outreach co-chair of SAAN, emphasized the importance of a safe space for discussion.

“The goal behind the workshop series as a whole is to provide a space for conversations that aren’t normally had and conversations that you need a safe environment to have,” Shetty said. “It’s a space to have honest conversations about our experiences and to be open with each other.”

By fostering a dialogue among the students, González hoped to make a sensitive subject more comfortable to confront.

“Domestic violence and a lot of violence against women and children are invisible, and it’s a taboo topic, and people think it’s a private matter, but it’s actually a social disease,” González said. “It’s very preventable. That’s why I’m here doing community education — because I think that’s the first step of prevention.”

One student raised his hand and asked, “How do you respond if a friend comes to you and confides in you that they are being abused?”Another student asked what to do if the victim does not want to seek help.

Although it is common to become frustrated with victims of domestic violence who refuse to leave their abusers, González stressed the importance of a non-judgmental support system.

“Statistics say it takes a victim seven to eight (incidents of abuse) to leave,” she said.

Business senior Yash Bhutada, co-chair of SAAN, thought the event was a success.

“I think it was really nice to talk about something serious in a comfortable and safe setting and, hopefully, people go out and are comfortable talking about these issues, spreading it onto their friends who weren’t able to come to the event,” Bhutada said.

SAAN hosts SAAN Talks twice a month. Each talk aims to generate a dialogue on a specific topic. Recent talks have been focused on bullying and identity.

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