Susan Leavy, a professor at Saddleback College and the director of the Women’s Center at Cal State Fullerton spoke at the Cadena Cultural Center Monday April 3 for her 10th year in a row, speaking for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
This seminar aimed to encourage college students to take what they have learned and educate others. as younger generations are not often taught the signs or how to handle an abusive relationship.
One of her key topics was the cycle of violence which consists of three parts: the honeymoon phase, into the tension building, the explosion and this continuously repeats.
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, “domestic violence is most common among women between the ages of 18-24.”
In the United States, an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute, equating to more than 10 million abuse victims annually.
Women are not the only ones affected by domestic violence, although they are often the most talked about. Nearly three million men are victims of physical assaults in the United States.
“It was really interesting to learn about all the different forms of abuse and how the batterer justifies themselves. Definitely a psychological thing,” said Gustavo Cruz, a student at Fullerton College.
Domestic abuse stems from self-worth issues and the need to control whoever they are abusing because they cannot control other aspects of their lives.
Leavy explained that “Abusers believe that she (the abused) deserved it. What batterers will tell the police or counselors or the family is ‘she made me do it.’”
Leavy went on to say that they will even say things such as “I don’t know why she makes me do this stuff, does she think I like it? That I like beating her up? She should just stop making me do this.”
Batterers do not believe that they are in the wrong, as they see this as a means of control and in some cases as a form of affection.
Leavy compares domestic violence to a spider web with the abuser slowly trapping the abused much like a spider does to a fly in its web.
This topic isn’t regularly discussed and many do not feel comfortable when confronted with the reality of domestic abuse.
Cruz went on to state that being aware that this does happen and knowing the signs and being able to get educated is extremely important for college students.
Vincent White, a coordinator at the Cadena Center, was extremely grateful for Leavy’s seminar and her continuous help at FC for Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
“One of the things we want to say is she comes here pro bono on her own, we ask her every year and she never asks for payment or any of that because she feels very passionate about this subject.”
Leavy has “probably educated well over a thousand of Fullerton College’s students,” added White.
“Domestic violence is now called intimate partner violence because it’s not always about husbands and wives. It’s a scourge that really interrupts people’s lives,” said Leavy.
“When it starts as young as middle school, it’s hard for people to undo that, to feel a strong sense of self-worth and confidence. So spread the word. Talk to people. Let them know,” concluded Leavy.