Interpersonal Violence: Be Sensitive, be knowledgeable

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Posted Mon, Dec 1, 2014

Jalisa Williams, right, and Johanna Lopez discuss interpersonal violence and bystander intervention in a workshop that was showcased by The Phoenix Center at Auraria on Oct. 27 at the Tivoli

Jalisa Williams, right and Johanna Lopez discuss interpersonal violence and bystander
intervention in a workshop that was showcased by The Phoenix Center at Auraria on Oct. 27 at the Tivoli [Photo by Emily Fox]

DENVER, Auraria Campus — The Phoenix Center at Auraria presented an open-campus workshop called “You Don’t Need a Cape to be a Superhero” on safe tactics for bystander intervention when interpersonal violence is seen. It took place on Oct. 27 in Tivoli 442 and displayed many problems that humanity should address.

Attendees were first given a description of interpersonal violence. Definitions like rape, stalking and domestic violence were explained and got many of the students to begin openly discussing those issues.

After the discussion, videos were then reviewed as examples of successful bystander intervention. One video was simply a subway scene. Inside the train was a man that was stalking a woman. The woman, who realized that the man was following her, began screaming and kicking him. As the video continued and the woman kept kicking, a tall, bulky bystander stepped in the middle and began to eat his nachos nonchalantly. The arguing and stalking stopped – a successful intervention by a random person.

But before the students were shown this video, they were asked why they chose not to intervene in violent situations they see. The following excuses were given:
“Some people just don’t know what to do and they don’t want to get hurt”
“I might get in trouble with the police myself”
“I’m going to be late.”

It appeared as though the students thought violent situations were just a way of the world. No one would willingly stop them, except for the tall man in the subway scene.

Johanna Lopez, one of the workshop instructors, said that so many violent circumstances can be avoided if people knew what they were and how to handle them.

“You can do things when in this environment and you can actually help, or at least try,” said Johanna Lopez, a teacher at the workshop.
But, Jalisa Williams, the other workshop educator seemed to believe it was because people have become numb to the violence around them.

“I feel like a lot of us have become desensitized because there is so much out there that it’s just said that this is how it is, when in reality it is so wrong,” she said.

So Williams and Lopez made it a combined goal to simply inform those that attended the workshop. By showing them videos of successful bystander intervention; discussing violent situations; and empowering them with the knowledge of what interpersonal violence is, hopefully a few heroes would step out of the crowd in the future.

“I had no idea how easy it would be to just stop something,” said Denver School of Nursing student Cassie Leech who had attended the event.

For those that would like an opportunity to learn more about bystander intervention, the Phoenix Center is continuing the workshop and leaves it open to all on campus.

“We did one in September, we have one coming up Thursday and there will be one in November. We are looking to schedule dates for next spring as well,” said Jenn Doe, violence prevention education coordinator at the Phoenix Center at Auraria.

The Phoenix Center has employed counselors who will talk to victims in order to safely help them out of violent situations. Serving MSU Denver, Colorado Community College and University of Colorado at Denver, Phoenix Center counselors were placed in a unique location.
“We don’t have kind of a campus population that is living here,” Doe said. “But, our office sees lots of clients that are experiencing forms of violence.”
The Phoenix Center’s helpline serves the Auraria campus and is available 24/7 at 303-556-CALL(2255).

About Emily Fox

Emily Pennetti is a Metro State Journalism Student in Denver, Co. She works as a cosmetologist and freelance writer on the side.

View all posts by Emily Fox

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