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UCLA groups organize walk for domestic violence awareness

By Camille Von Kaenel

Nov. 1, 2013 1:21 a.m.

Student groups will help host a silent walk around campus on Saturday as part of a worldwide event to honor people who have experienced domestic violence.

The event represents the silence that organizers said is often imposed on survivors of domestic violence. It will take place at 7 a.m. at Drake Stadium.

After the walk, participants will be invited to share their stories and perspectives and visit booths set up by participating campus groups.

Students at the event will also be able to sign up for educational workshops about sexual assault and pledge to inform themselves about bystander intervention and effective consent as part of a campaign run by two undergraduate student government offices called 7,000 in Solidarity.

They can also make donations to Women of Concern Professionals, the networking and women’s support organization hosting the event at various locations around the world.

The event will be co-programmed by the Undergraduate Students Association Council’s Student Wellness Commission, the Campus Assault Resources & Education Speak Out & Support Coalition, Run for Courage and the 7,000 in Solidarity campaign.

Ronni D. Savage, a member of Women of Concern Professionals, said she decided to organize the walk at UCLA because she did not have support groups and counseling services when she experienced domestic violence in college. She added that she wants UCLA students to be aware of campus resources in case of assault, so they do not have to experience the same hardships she did.

Student Legal Services and UCLA Counseling and Psychological Services provide legal and emotional assistance to survivors of domestic violence, said Pamela Thomason, UCLA’s Title IX officer.

Savage, a competitive sports administrative specialist at UCLA, said speaking out about her own history with domestic violence helped her recover.

“Once I started telling the story, it didn’t hurt me anymore,” Savage said. “It’s therapeutic to share stories.”

Several campus organizations who are also working to educate students about the resources available to them will be at the event.

Campus Assault Resources & Education Speak Out & Support Coalition helps different groups collaborate on sexual-assault issues and provides training to students on how to best respond to victims of sexual violence, said Carly Yoshida, a fourth-year English student and co-chair of CARE SOS.

Student Wellness Commissioner Savannah Badalich said she is helping to run the event because it aligns well with the 7,000 in Solidarity campaign against sexual assault run by the Student Wellness Commission and the USAC President’s office.

“We want to create avenues for action for students, and not just survivors or friends of survivors,” Badalich said. “You can start by talking about it.”

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