Editor’s note: While reporters do not normally share personal experiences, Kamilah’s own experience with domestic violence helps add depth and insight to her story.

A quarter of people living in the U.S. are directly affected by domestic violence, so the probabilities of knowing a person affected by domestic violence are high.

“More than 1 in 3 Women (35.6%) and more than 1 in 4 men (28.5%) in the U.S. (have) experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an in intimate partner in their lifetime,”  according to a survey provided by the CDC.

This is not only a national issue; domestic violence affects us here at home in Oregon. In 2015 there were 45 incidents of fatal domestic violence in the state, and five of those deaths were in Douglas County, according to the Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence.

With statistics being as high as they are, Oregonians and the members of Douglas County are asking if there are options available to those being affected by this crisis.

The National Domestic Abuse Hotline defines Domestic Violence as “a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship.”

During my first marriage I found myself questioning if I was in an abusive relationship. My finances were controlled, I was no longer allowed to work, I was not allowed to speak to family or friends, my only duties were to take care of my newborn child and do whatever my husband asked of me. Whenever I questioned the situation I was in, or tried to address the problems I was facing, I was met with a fist and a barrage of swear words. My hope for a better life was in the loose change found from dirty jeans going into the wash and a stack of money from my tax return I kept hidden from my spouse. Eventually, I purchased plane tickets, filed a protective order and had to move across states as a single mother. When I stood in court with my hands shaking for my divorce and custody hearing, a domestic violence advocate stood behind me. That made all the difference.

UCC and the BPA (Battered Persons’ Advocacy) are honoring Domestic Violence Awareness Month with a handful of events on campus.

The BPA is a non-profit organization with local facilities focusing on creating a  safer community free of stalking, sexual violence, and family violence through education and support.

The BPA also provides confidential services to students year round. The BPA- provided services are confidential and the events are targeted on safety and well-being.

Veronica Joyce, a veteran as well as a former UCC student, is UCC’s BPA “C.A.R.E.” Advocate. C.A.R.E. stands for Campus Advocacy Resources and Education. Joyce was available as a resource to the school after the Oct. 1 school shooting, through the Victims of Crime Act. After 18 months of her service, the college obtained another grant to keep her on campus officially as part of the BPA and UCC.

A Kiss is Not a Promise

Joyce is leading a BPA project “A Kiss Is Not A Promise” on Oct. 16 in the Campus Center Dining Room from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., where students can discuss and explore intimate relationships and appropriate boundaries.

A Safe Place to Journal

Her “Safe Place to Journal” project will also be held at the Campus Center Lobby on Oct 28 and 29 where students will make collages for the outside of notebooks and will be able to journal and connect with other students.

Resource Fair

One of the most important BPA events will be the “Resource Fair” on Oct. 23 in the Campus Center Dining Room from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Members of the Douglas County Task Force to End Family Violence will provide information at multiple tables. “I’m excited to bring everyone together. Our community partners do different things to help end violence in our community, and our relationships have become pretty strong. I’m hoping students, staff and faculty can all make time to attend the resource fair,”Joyce stated.

Joyce will also run the Windows Between Worlds workshop series based on A Window Between Worlds and other human services agencies’s healing arts curriculum. The Window Between Worlds Workshop is based on art therapy, a concept effective in therapy according to research; it “is used to improve cognitive and sensorimotor functions, foster self-esteem and self awareness, cultivate emotional resilience, promote insight, enhance social skills, reduce and resolve conflicts and distress and advance societal and ecological change,” according to the journal “Frontiers of Psychology.” The workshop series will be held every Thursday at 4 p.m. in Tapoyta Hall classroom 16 through  November.

BPA also offers options for transitional housing, with four single person units and one other unit that can fit up to five families. Legal Advocacy services range from assistance with filing protective orders, accompaniment to lawyer or attorney offices and support during court hearings. Advocates may not give legal advice, but they are there to support through the process. Sexual Assault Response services include having an advocate meet survivor at the hospital, peer counseling and legal and medical advocacy.

If a student needs to talk to someone about themselves or a loved one being affected by domestic violence, sexual crime, stalking, or human trafficking, Joyce’s office is a safe place for support and can be located in the Student Center.See the information desk for directions.Co-locations for the BPA are at DHS (Department of Human Services), South River Medical Center, and Mercy Medical Center.

A 24-hour local BPA hotline is available for anyone at  (541)440-7866/(800)464-6543. The BPA’s website is www.peaceathome.com. The national hotline for anonymous confidential help from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence is 1-800-799-7233(SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224(TTY).

Contact me atUCCMainstream@yahoo.com