A group of students in Fall’s Intro to Sexuality, Women, and Gender studies (SWAG) class organized a forum on the threats and dangers of abusive relationships.
In the course taught by Dr. Kimberly Dennis―and in collaboration with the Peace and Justice Institute (PJI) at Valencia College―students explored Rachel Louise Snyder’s book “No Visible Bruises: What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us.” Studying the book inspired a group of dedicated students to organize the forum, which took place on Nov. 18.
A number of discussion points were presented during the forum, including themes found in Snyder’s book, limited counseling availability in the CAPS program, instances of on-campus abuse and sexual assault, and others.
Approximately 35 people attended the forum.
“We believe domestic violence is not discussed enough, especially in our Rollins community, including educators, who often tip-toe around this idea,” said Adrianna Arosemena (‘25), a student in Dennis’s class who helped organize the forum. “We wanted to reach out to the student body and provide a safe space to raise their individual voices on where they would like to see changes.”
Though Dennis helped her students conduct this forum, she said that the conversations were purely student-led.
“I see my job as listening for student concerns and then helping students find ways that are meaningful—to them—to address them,” Dennis said. “What I think is a good solution, as a person much older than students, may feel to students like a terrible approach. I believe it’s very important for faculty, staff, and administrators to listen to students on the issues that impact their lives and work collaboratively with students to find appropriate ways to support them.”
Dennis said that the nation has greatly improved on how victims of abuse are supported, but there is an ample amount of work to do when it comes to acknowledging, responding to, and preventing intimate partner violence (IPV).
“Part of what we should be doing on a college campus is confronting societal issues like this one,” Dennis said. “It’s vital that spaces be provided for students to share support for each other, learn that they are not alone and about resources both on campus and beyond, and brainstorm about how our community can best support survivors.”
The forum is a precursor to an event with PJI in January 2022, in which Snyder will be present to discuss her book. Rollins students are encouraged to attend.
Arosemena said that she hopes the forum helped “raise awareness of domestic violence to influence other students to think critically of how we can improve beyond our community and school into the real world, and to urge students to take action and initiative to further educate themselves and those around them on pressing issues such as IPV.”
For students who are interested in participating in January’s discussion with the PJI, they can contact Dennis at firstname.lastname@example.org.