Weigel Health Center promotes One Love Foundation workshop

Jillian LeBlanc & Neseemah Coleman, Opinion Editor & Contributor

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Does your boyfriend constantly put you down? Is your girlfriend obsessed with knowing where you are? Does your partner often show signs of jealousy, discouraging you from seeing your friends, or family?

If you answered, “yes” to any of these, you might be in an abusive relationship.

A One Love Foundation workshop took place earlier this month for the first time at SUNY Buffalo State to inform students about domestic abuse. Weigel Health Promotions hosted the workshop.

The event – in the wake of a domestic-related murder-suicide involving SUNY Geneseo students – drew a small audience, including two students under sanctions, forced to attend by the college to fulfill community service hours. But most of those gathered, including Brittany Baker, a Buffalo State senior, attended the workshop because of its important message.

“I wish more people would’ve came out. I really think it’s a big issue,” said Baker, a former Weigel Health intern.

The group viewed a short film titled “Escalation,” which showcased the intensity of an abusive relationship. This half hour awareness video showed signs of abuse, and how they can be ignored, or misread. The room was quiet and tense as a group of strangers broached a difficult topic, eventually opening up, and participating in discussion.

The One Love Foundation was founded in 2010 in memory of Yeardley Love, who was killed by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Buffalo State is one of two schools in Buffalo to be part of the movement against domestic violence. Love serves as an example, to be sure, a rare one, of what can happen if red flags are ignored, and people don’t speak up about abusive actions.

Paula Madrigal, assistant director of prevention and health promotion for the Weigel Health Center, said she believes that many victims do not come forward because society does not feel comfortable talking about domestic abuse.

“We are, as you see, in a culture where we don’t talk about this,” Madrigal said.

The goal of the One Love workshop is to encourage people to identify abuse and to speak up about it.

Domestic violence can be defined as a pattern that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. Abuse is physical, sexual, emotional, or psychological actions, or threats of actions, that influence another person. This issue affects one in three women and one in four men.

“We don’t know what a healthy relationship is supposed to look like,” Madrigal said. “Where is the line? What’s the difference between something that is normal, and something this is abnormal?”

Madrigal said people should speak up when they think something isn’t right, even if the majority think it is.

Baker believes people don’t seek assistance because they don’t know how to get the information they need.

“We really have to work on having people understand that there is help,” she said.

Baker said people don’t pay attention to the information that’s out there, and don’t know where to look when they need it most – then question whether they’re overreacting or not.

“I feel like there’s a lot that happens that hasn’t been reported,” she said of domestic abuse.

The One Love Foundation strives to diminish that theory by making students aware of services available, and making them comfortable with seeking help.

“Awareness, education, and the perception of others” plays a major role in victims speaking up, Madrigal said.

Abuse does not discriminate; it can happen to anyone, anywhere, regardless of race, gender, religion, socioeconomics, or location. A former SUNY Geneseo State student killed his ex-girlfriend and another student Jan. 18 in her student apartment.

Tragedy strikes close to home, and if people are aware of warning signs and know how to intervene, such circumstances could potentially be avoided.

“I would love to see students signing up and taking it, and sharing the information and being a leader, not just here on campus, but in the community and within their own relationships,” Madrigal said.

Baker agreed.

“The bigger (the One Love Foundation) grows, there will be more people getting comfortable, and we’ll see better results.”

Those seeking assistance for domestic abuse on campus are encouraged to seek out the following:

Crisis Services (24 Hour Emergency Services):

716-878-3131

Counseling Center:

716-878-4436

2nd floor of Weigel Heath Center

Weigel Health Center:

716-878-6711

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