Campus Life

Gender Equity Center hosts events to mark Domestic Violence Awareness Month

October opportunities include speakers, exhibits, and interactive activities like the Clothesline Project so students, faculty and staff can participate in a variety of ways.

Keynote speaker Sonalee Rashatwar is a clinical social worker, sex therapist, adjunct lecturer, grassroots organizer, and survivor. They will be speaking at 7 p.m. on Oct. 12, 2021, in Freeman Auditorium, HUB-Robeson Center.  Credit: Provided by Sonalee RashatwarAll Rights Reserved.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Penn State and community partners are working throughout the month to raise awareness around this important issue and to provide opportunities for the Penn State community to engage in prevention efforts and show support for survivors.

The month will offer several involvement opportunities, from speakers and exhibits, to interactive activities like the Clothesline Project, so students, faculty and staff can participate in a variety of ways.

“The theme for this year’s Domestic Violence Awareness Month is ‘Everyone knows someone,’ highlighting the prevalence of this violence,” said Becca Geiger, assistant director of Penn State’s Gender Equity Center, a unit of Student Affairs. “Perpetrators rely on isolation and silence to maintain power and control over victim survivors. Thus, our engagements for this October seek to shatter that silence, by making space for conversation and community, enabling every Penn Stater to get involved. No act is too small to promote a positive campus culture intolerant of violence.”

This month’s events include:

Clothesline Project T-shirt making

Join us for one of three t-shirt making sessions to create a shirt to be displayed around campus as part of the Clothesline Project for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

  • Tuesday, Sept. 28, 5 to 8 p.m., Mann Assembly Room, 103 Paterno Library
  • Monday, Oct. 4, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Heritage Hall, HUB-Robeson Center
  • Thursday, Oct. 7, 5 to 8 p.m., Heritage Hall, HUB-Robeson Center

Individuals attending the Commonwealth Campuses or Penn State World Campus, or who want to participate virtually, can participate in the Virtual T-shirt making event again this year with instructions and templates located on the Gender Equity Center’s website

'Empty Place at the Table'

  • Throughout October, in Boucke 204

Anyone walking by Boucke 204 during the month of October may notice a table with a place setting, complete with linens, a plate, silverware and a glass, waiting for someone to take a seat. Unfortunately, no one will arrive. This setting is a part of Centre Safe’s annual, “Empty Place at the Table,” awareness project. This place setting is a memorial for the lives lost to domestic violence in Centre County from 1998 to 2017 and as a reminder that domestic violence leaves an "empty place at the table" for family and friends of the loved one that was murdered. Stop by the display to learn about the victims' stories and honor their lives, taken too soon.  

MILCK: Concert and conversation

  • Oct. 4, 7 p.m., Alumni Hall, HUB-Robeson Center

The Student Programming Association and the Gender Equity Center are hosting an evening with MILCK, aka artist Connie Lim. The evening includes a conversation and intimate concert with this recording artist, victim survivor, musician and artivist who uses music to write herself into existence. She said music is her way of processing the world around her, while also imagining a better one that lies ahead.

MILCK said she wrote the song “Quiet” in response to her own experiences with abuse. Now, this recording artist and activist empowers others to overcome their adversities and rise up against negativity and oppression; her performance of “Quiet” with a choir of 25 strangers at the 2017 Women’s March went viral. She has continued using her music for awareness and activism around the Black Lives Matter movement and Stop AAPI Hate, which has taken on increased attention amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clothesline Project display

  • Oct. 11-29, in multiple venues: the Pasquerilla Spiritual Center, Pollock Cultural Lounge, Pattee and Paterno Library, Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, and UPUA Office (Room 314) HUB-Robeson Center

This in-person display amplifies the voices of those silenced by violence and sends a powerful message of support for victim survivors among the campus community. View shirts made by Penn State community members, providing words of support for survivors, sharing stories of a personal experience or that of someone close to them, and promoting messages taking stand against power-based personal violence. 

To view virtual Clothesline Project submissions, individuals can review the gallery on the Gender Equity Center’s website

An evening with Sonalee Rashatwar

  • Oct. 12, 7 p.m., Freeman Auditorium, HUB-Robeson Center

Join the Gender Equity Center and Health Promotion and Wellness for an evening with Sonalee Rashatwar, also known by their Instagram handle, @TheFatSexTherapist. Rashatwar is serving as the keynote speaker for both Domestic Violence Awareness Month and "Love Your Body Week." Rashatwar will discuss body image and abuse and trauma in unhealthy and abusive relationships, as well as in relationship with society's problematic culture, including conversations about fat phobia and unpacking the intersections of fat, gender, race, and white supremacy.

Rashatwar is a clinical social worker, sex therapist, adjunct lecturer, grassroots organizer, and survivor. Based in Philadelphia (licensed in New Jersey and Pennsylvania), they are a superfat, queer, bisexual, nonbinary therapist and co-owner of Radical Therapy Center, specialized in treating sexual trauma, diet trauma, racial or immigrant trauma, and South Asian family abuse, while offering fat-positive sexual-health care.

Individuals can join the conversation virtually by signing up for the livestream here. This event is funded by the Student Fee and the Laura R. Whitaker Fund. 

Purple Thursday

  • Oct. 21

Purple is the recognized awareness color for domestic violence. Purple Thursday aims to raise awareness about intimate partner violence and domestic violence by highlighting support for survivors and the efforts people have taken to reduce the stigma, advocate for survivors, and work for greater safety and equity for victim survivors.

To participate in Purple Thursday, Penn State community members can take a picture of themselves wearing purple on Oct. 21 and share the pictures on social media tagging @pennstategeneq and using the hashtag #PurpleThursday2021. Individuals are encouraged to tell followers why they support survivors. Participants who post a picture wearing purple tagging @pennstategeneq, will be entered to win a Gender Equity Center swag bag.

Many campus buildings will also be "going purple" on this day. Various areas across the University Park campus will be lit purple in recognition of the strength of victim survivors.

The month's events are hosted by the Gender Equity Center and co-sponsored by units including Centre Safe, the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, Student Engagement Programs, the Center for Spiritual and Ethical Development, Health Promotion and Wellness, Residence Life, Alpha Phi Alpha, University Libraries, Penn State Panhellenic Council, University Park Undergraduate Association, and the Student Programing Association.

For more information on domestic violence and ways to become involved in prevention efforts, visit the Gender Equity Center website.

Last Updated October 01, 2021