How the FAU community has shown support for Domestic Violence Awareness month

With Domestic Violence Month over, senior Joi Dean and Victim Advocate Candace Harrinarine discussed the strategies used by FAU to raise awareness for domestic violence not just in the month of October, but all year.


Illustration by Aitana Gonzalez.

Kendall Little, Contributing Writer

As October wrapped up, so did Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Joi Dean, a senior and the president of FAU’s chapter of the National Organization for Women, and Candace Harrinarine, Victim Advocate for FAU Police that oversees any cases that relate to victimization, spoke about the strategies and events used this year to raise awareness.

“Domestic Violence Awareness month is important because many FAU community members may know of someone, or identify as someone, who is the survivor/victim of a domestic or dating violence related situation,” Harrinarine said.

Since the issue is important to Harrinarine, she and the rest of FAU’s Domestic Violence Awareness Committee decided to plan a month full of COVID-safe events for students to take part in. 

The committee “is comprised of FAU staff and students [and] was created to put together the initiatives for the month of October,” according to Lisa Metcalf, Chief Press Officer of FAU’s Media Relations Department.

On Oct. 7, an event was hosted in collaboration with Student Government “that featured a diverse student panel and discussed how society, media, and popular culture portrays relationships and the reality of relationships from the perspectives of FAU students with varied perspectives on race, sexual orientation, gender, and environmental impacts,” Harrinarine said.

Dean agreed with Harrinarine about the importance of educating students about what a healthy relationship looks like compared to societal and media standards. 

“Normalizing healthy relationships and dialogues about what’s healthy” should be the main concern at FAU, especially during this month, Dean said.

Dean said that an unhealthy relationship can consist of your partner being “really controlling and quick to anger.”

The characteristics Dean described were touched on during the event on the seventh, which was designed to help students recognize what is healthy versus unhealthy in their intimate relationships.

The Domestic Violence Awareness Committee also created the Silent Witness Project which occurred on Oct. 12-16. Eight silhouettes were set up around campus with a QR code taped to them, which led to a link that gave information on how to help victims. Two additional silhouettes were posted online.

Harrinarine said that the event “was focused on bystander intervention discussing the signs related to potential abusive relationships and how to intervene.”

“Don’t always talk. Listen. Don’t assume you know things,” Dean said to allies.

On Wednesday, Oct. 21, The Domestic Violence Awareness Committee worked alongside the Center of IDEAs to host an event called “Queer Coffee Hour.”

According to Harrinarine, the event was “a panel discussion focused on the myths and reality of domestic violence in the LGBTQ+ community and the resources available.”

The last event of the month took place on Oct. 28 and was explained by Harrinarine as “a video with men discussing the role and impact of masculinity in relationships.”

Dean said there was a lot more to cover than just the events that took place, such as “better consent education” to teach students about what true consent looks and sounds like.

Harrinarine agreed that there is always more to do, but “the Committee members were thrilled to see many of our FAU student groups, offices, and community members join in the endeavors.”

Dean said that the events hosted this year were great but posed the question: “Why are we not posting about this on FAU’s main social media?”

FAU Owls Care Health Promotion’s Instagram account has been actively posting about the events and about Domestic Violence Awareness month in general, but the account only has 1,672 followers as of Oct. 30 compared to FAU’s main Instagram with over 30,900 followers.

Dean said, “we have all this stuff about the football team and all this stuff about how cool the campus looks with a purple filter on it, but why are we not posting [resources] for students?”

She suggested to FAU: “put it on your social media, put it up on campus. Say that you don’t condone this behavior.”

Dean added that “Owls Care does amazing stuff and Victim Services does amazing stuff, but they don’t get enough credit.”

People also need to be held to a higher level of responsibility, according to Dean. “I think FAU needs to hold people accountable, whether that’s quarterbacks on the football team or the professors,” she said.

FAU’s former quarterback Chris Robison was the subject of a sexual battery investigation against another student. 

“FAU has regulations and a student code of conduct that specifically address any behaviors that impact our community,” Harrinarine said. “Telling and retelling one’s story can be traumatizing on many levels.” 

This can impact the ability of the victim/survivor to go through a full formal investigation.

Dean tells victims that “no matter what your feelings are, they’re valid,” and that they should “do everything at [their] own pace.”

“If you want to make it a big scene then you have every right to,” Dean said. “You shouldn’t feel guilty about that.” 

However, if they choose not to go to the authorities that “[their] reasons for not coming forward are valid.”

Harrinarine said that the resources offered by FAU do not end after Domestic Violence Awareness month is over. “The support is year-round,” she said.

She said that, “in many cases, survivors/victims may not be ready to leave their abuser or they may not have the financial means to do so. Therefore, providing individuals with a plan and strategy is key.”

Harrinarine wants students to know that she is “here to support, empower and provide options.”

Dean also said that if victims do not feel comfortable going directly through FAU, if they “ever need anything, FAU NOW’s got you.” 

You can contact Victim Services in the following ways:

  • The Victim Services Office in Wimberly Library on the Boca Raton Campus in room 156
  • (561) 297-4841 (M-F, 8am-5pm)
  • (561) 297-0500 (after hours and ask to speak to the Victim Advocate)
  • [email protected]

Kendall Little is a contributing writer for the University Press. For information regarding this and other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @klittlewrites.