The Mississippi State University Health Promotion and Wellness Department held their first teddy bear drive for survivors of domestic violence on Wednesday.
MSU Health Promotion and Wellness is using the month of October, Domestic Violence Awareness month, to remind students how serious this problem is and how it can happen on campus.
“Not all homes are safe for everyone,” Health Promotion and Wellness Assistant Director Santee Ezell says.
More than 1 in 3 women in America experiences some form of violence or stalking from an intimate partner during their lifetime, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“When people hear of domestic violence, they only think of the physical, when really, it’s much more than that,” Ezell cautions.
Ezell says people between the ages of 16 and 24 in particular are significantly impacted by domestic violence.
“Many of our students may not know the difference between a healthy and an unhealthy relationship,” she says.
According to the U.S. Department of Justice, 32 percent of U.S. college students say they currently experience violence at the hands of their partner. 21 percent say they have experienced violence with a partner in the past.
Campus police say Mississippi State does not often deal with those types of serve incidents. However, violence can take different forms.
“Stalking, sexual harassment, any type of sexual misconduct, revenge porn, digital abuse, financial abuse, and of course emotional and physical abuse,” Ezell said, listing various manifestations of domestic violence.
MSU Police Chief Vance Rice says officers respond to stalking and harassment incidents on campus at least every other week.
“Recently, we had to go so far as to file criminal charges and felony stalking charges against a student,” he says.
Both Ezell and Chief Rice agree the best way to stop these incidents is for students and staff to continue to speak out if they see something.
“If you can’t report it to police, report it to student affairs. Report it to the counseling center.”
“We know students may not feel comfortable sharing but we hope just creating awareness will let them know that we are a resource here on campus.”