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CSU-Pueblo hosts domestic abuse “die-in”

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die.jpgMany people died on the campus of Colorado State University-Pueblo on Wednesday, Oct. 22, to participate in a “die-in” demonstration to raise awareness of domestic violence.

The demonstration was held in front of the library, where volunteers lied eerily still on the grass while others held signs displaying brutal statistics of violence or passed out pamphlets with information detailing the treatment of abuse.

The event was the vision of Diane Gentile, a senior at CSU-Pueblo and a minor in women’s studies.

She is also a victim of domestic violence.

“I’m a survivor, and I know that it’s prevalent in Pueblo and we tend to shut our eyes and close our ears to the problem if it doesn’t affect us directly,” Gentile said. “But it does affect everyone and you can’t sit there and say that if it doesn’t happen to me it never will, because chances are it will.”

With help from the women’s studies department at CSU-Pueblo and several organizations in town, including the Rape Crisis Center and the YWCA, she showed students the tragic truth of domestic violence, which is especially a problem in Pueblo, Colorado.

The Pueblo Chieftain recently ran an article stating that the rate of domestic violence in Pueblo is 50 percent higher that anywhere else in Colorado, which is a chilling fact that hit home with many of the students who viewed and participated in the event.

Bringing this information straight to the people is why events such as “die-ins” are important, said Hannah Hartsfield, education director at the Rape Crisis Center.

“Awareness is probably the biggest help people can do,” Hartsfield said. “People don’t really understand how big a problem domestic violence and abuse is and so to bring that awareness kind of shocks people’s systems and gets them interested and at least thinking twice when they see things happen and before they act themselves.”

Hartsfield promoted this awareness and focused on the more degrading aspects of domestic violence, specifically sexual assault.

“We like to emphasize that sexual assault is the big part of domestic violence,” Hartsfield said. “People think that just because they’re dating someone or are married to someone that they can’t sexually assault you, when about 80 to 85 percent of sexual assaults are committed by people you are intimately involved with.”

Marcella Villalon, a family crisis shelter counselor at the YWCA, was also present, volunteering her time to help raise awareness of domestic violence, and was particularly proud of the effectiveness of the event.

“I think that this is probably one of the best event that I’ve seen in Pueblo to make people aware that there is an epidemic of domestic violence,” Villalon said.

She was especially proud of the dedication of the volunteers and all the efforts they made to help raise awareness of the broad aspects of domestic violence.

“…I just hope that people will take away something from here that will better their relationships,” Villalon said.

Roughly 50 people volunteered for the event, according to Hartsfield, which included Rachel Dupler, a women’s study minor who was vital in organizing the event, and Karen Yescavage, who is the women’s studies coordinator.

Yescavage hopes that for those who participated, it gave them something to think about and helps them be mindful about the things that happen behind closed doors, stating that with domestic violence being a silent issue, it’s important for demonstrations such as these to bring the situation to the surface as opposed to ignoring it.

She also promoted the on-campus resources that are available to those who are victims of domestic violence.

“Our counseling center is great and it’s free to students,” Yescavage said. “They’re excellent. Whenever a student comes to me with a problem, I always refer them.”

Several classes are also available to learn more about domestic violence, including courses covering crime and women and family violence.

For more information or treatment regarding domestic violence and rape, please contact:

Pueblo Rape Crisis Center at: 719-544-1191

YWCA of Pueblo at 719-542-6904

CSU-Pueblo Student Counseling Center at 719-549-2859