I had the pleasure of "talking"online with the winner of the Miss Davenport contest, Kay Oskvig. While she is certainly a lovely young lady, she does not shy away from getting involved in causes that aren't so pretty. Her platform is entitled "DATE: Decreasing Abuse Through Education." She is a volunteer advocate at the domestic violence shelter in Ames, where she's a student at Iowa State University. Kay is a double major in Political Science and Psychology. After graduation this May, she plans to attend law school. For the next day or two, I'll be sharing parts of our conversation.
1. How did you get involved in working with domestic violence issues?
As President of ISU’s Psychology Club, community organizations contact me with individual and group volunteer opportunities around the community. Ames is home to ACCESS (Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support), and members of their organization came to speak at one of our meetings. I knew right away that I wanted to help out in any way that I could, and became a certified Domestic Abuse Advocate.
2. Do you personally know people who are affected by this?
Yes, I do. People of all ages and of all backgrounds suffer from domestic violence; it is certainly not an isolated social problem. Because of my work at the shelter here in Ames, I’ve met several survivors first hand. I also have many friends who have been directly affected by DV or sexual assault. Statistics show that one in four women will experience domestic abuse in their lifetime. The most important thing to remember is that DV is not always reported or obvious – each of us knows someone, probably several people, who have suffered or are suffering from violence or abuse. It is so important to be aware of resources and not be hesitant to support someone if they need to escape from a harmful situation.
3. What do you see as some of the main causes behind dv?
The cycle of power and control is usually used when talking about DV, and I believe that an individual’s desire to have power over their partner is a major driving factor behind the violence. The “domestic” part of DV stems from an intimate partner (current or former). Trust and love can make it very hard to leave a violent partner. Fear and isolation are also major factors in DV, along with past history (growing up in a violent home or having previous violent relationships).
4. What are some of the challenges to reducing the amount of dv in society?
Unfortunately, domestic violence affects millions of people in the United States and billions around the world. There are a few stigmas associated with DV: victim-blaming is sadly prevalent. Justifying a violent act may seem easy: perhaps the partner had a bad day, the house isn’t clean, or the economy is hurting a relationship. These attitudes pervade through society and cause people to ask, “Why do you let him hit you?” “What did you do?” and “Why didn’t you leave?” There is never an excuse for violence! While the majority of DV victims are female, males also suffer from DV. This causes additional stereotypes, especially because men are expected to be ‘macho’ and have control. Because DV may not be obvious and can be hard to talk about openly, another challenge is knowledge and awareness. Several foundations exist to assist survivors of DV and it is easy to find information. Becoming more educated about this societal issue could save a life!