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UMD Students and the Prince George’s County Community Talk Domestic Violence

Trigger warning: This article includes mentions of  domestic violence. 

October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which opened up opportunities for communities to talk about and educate themselves on domestic violence.

In Prince George’s County, there are groups and programs that serve to help people who are in need of assistance or who wish to better understand what domestic violence looks like. A program called The Men’s Challenge: Join The Conversation, run by the Prince George’s County Department of Family Services, offers group discussions designed to  “influence men and boys through conversations about developing healthy relationships,” according to the Prince George’s County website. The group held discussions on Oct. 19 and Nov. 9.

In the College Park community, there is a new group at the University of Maryland called Community Crisis Services Inc. Volunteering, which is run by co-presidents Sari Brusso and Julia Garcia and staff advisor Olivia Hazlett. Volunteers take care of the children of domestic violence victims for two hours a day Monday through Thursday. It provides free childcare for parents, especially mothers, who are dealing with unfortunate situations at home.

It is natural to think of the victim in a domestic violence situation as the girlfriend, mother or wife who is being abused, but the effects of these situations impact everyone involved.

“I see a lot of aggression, especially in the boys [ we take care of],” Brusso said. “Many of the kids have misconceptions about relationships because of what they see at home.”

Cases of domestic violence have risen in Prince George’s County, according to Brusso, who saw double the amount of children at the volunteering center compared to the 2019-2020 school year, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The mental health of the children she works with has worsened; they sometimes express aggression and have a hard time understanding boundaries and how to interact with other kids, she said. 

In the midst of protests and walks for awareness in College Park, many students at this university believe conversations about domestic violence need to take place.

“I think it’s important that [victims of domestic violence] have a safe space to talk to and form relationships with other people, and bring awareness to the situation so it doesn’t happen again,” said Zenia Kaovasia, a freshman environmental science and policy major. 

People who are dealing with domestic violence can reach out to the Counseling Center in the Shoemaker Building on campus. Students can also reach out to the CARE to Stop Violence team at the Health Center. In Maryland as a whole, there is the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, as well as the Maryland Domestic Violence Program (DOMV) for people in these situations who need assistance. 

Rebeka Ewusie

Maryland '23

Rebeka Ewusie is a junior journalism major who loves to read, write, listen to music, and watch movies. She was born and raised in Germantown, Maryland and has traveled to three countries.
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