Issues important to women have found an institutional and informational base at the Women’s Resource and Research Center located in a little house-like structure right where campus ends on Plummer Street and Darby Avenue. True to their objective as a powerhouse for women, the center organizes and hosts many events, with one coming up on Nov. 30 called “Empowering and Educating.”
“This event is mainly about discussing the law regarding domestic violence and informing women about their available options if they should ever find themselves in a violent situation,” said Rima Antonyan, an intern at the Women’s Center responsible for organizing the event.
“(Violence) happens a lot in this country,” she said. “It is not a thing of the past or exclusive to the developing world. Virtually any female can be confronted with violence despite their level of education or social standing.”
The Women’s Resource and Research Center finds itself providing support for many women who encounter violent situations.
“Women can call in, talk to a counselor who can assist her by providing all possible options available to her and help her determine what steps to take from that point,” said Quintella Smith, an event organizer at the center.
“There are women who physically come here in tears,” said Ayu Nishikawa, the Assistant Director of the center.
Upon entry into the Women’s center there is a vast number of pamphlets a person can obtain about domestic violence, legal resources, counseling, date rape and sexual assault, sex discrimination, sexual harassment, physical and mental health issues pertaining to women, among others. There are colorful pictures of inspirational women such as Maya Angelou posted all over the walls and in the relatively small space of the center there are always people there eager to listen and help and even offer a warm cup of tea.
The center interprets the cycle of violence in three phases. These phases are characterized by minor battering incidents or verbal and emotional abuse that escalates to a violent rage. The last phase known as “the respite” entails apologetic and conciliatory behavior, and the cycle starts over.
“It is possible for this type of violence to lead to death,” Smith said.
“Unfortunately, it takes a woman a bit of time along with several attempts before she makes the decision to leave and seek help, especially when there (are) children and family involved,” she said.
Rachel Rothbart Kronick, an attorney for the Harriet Buhai Center for Family Law, is going to educate women about their legal rights during the “Empowering and Educating” event on Nov. 30.
According to Nishikawa, there are still too many women who are missinformed about the legal rights they are entitled to in the event of domestic violence.
“We try to work with various organizations on campus in order to try and create more awareness of gender issues,” she said. “For example, we helped sponsored the AIDS walk with the Associated Students.”
All the volunteers and counselors employed by the Women’s Center have undergone mandatory training sessions and are well qualified to assist anyone seeking support, Nishikawa said.
While creating awareness among women about issues that are consequential to them is very important and still challenging, an important agent of change may lay in the other sex.
“It is very important to not exclude men in women’s issues and gender awareness,” Nishikawa said, adding, “Next semester we are highly considering recruiting male volunteers to discuss date rape, dynamics of sexual relations, and other pressing gender-based issues with campus fraternities.”