By Sarah Crespo
Ashley Bendiksen never thought that the title of “domestic violence survivor” would be given to her after her two-year relationship when she was in college.
“1 in 3 young adults ages 16-24 report at least one abusive relationship,” Bendiksen said.
The Stonehill community recognized the week of Oct. 3 as “The Week of Domestic Violence Prevention” in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
To begin the week, a domestic violence panel invited the Stonehill community to join the conversation against dating violence and bring awareness about available resources on and off campus.
Ashley Bendiksen, now a career coach, spoke to students about her struggle with relationship abuse in college and her journey to recovery.
Bendiksen said that while she was in her relationship, she didn’t realize she was a victim because of her lack of knowledge about domestic abuse.
“I was chasing security, love and jumping into relationships,” she said.
Domestic violence can be verbal, emotional, psychological, physical, or financial.
“Statistically, it takes a battered women 9 attempts to leave,” Bendiksen said.
Bendiksen said that although her abuse wasn’t always physical, domestic violence occurs with an imbalance of power and implication of fear.
Health and Wellness Coordinator Jessica Greene,said she chose Bendiksen’s story because of the age similarity with Stonehill students.
“We wanted to raise awareness that this does actually happen to people of all ages,” Greene said. “It can happen at a young age.”
The panel also included representatives from Counseling Services and The Family and Community Resources in Brockton.
Counseling Services is located in the Chapel of Mary and offers confidential counseling to students, Monday through Friday by appointment.
The Family and Community Resources in Brockton is also open to Stonehill students and offers a Batterers Intervention Program.
“Everyday at least three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in the U.S.,” Bendiksen said, reading a 2013 domestic violence statistic.
Jessica Greene said that she organized the panel hoping to encourage those who may need help to seek it.
“Dating violence does affect our students,” Greene said. “We wanted to raise awareness, raise red flags, and connect those who need it with resources.”
“I was able to change my life and I never thought I could,” Bendiksen said. “We need to break the silence and talk about it.”
The Week of Domestic Violence Prevention also offered students the opportunity to participate in Bystander Intervention Training, One Love: Dating Violence Training and a Domestic Violence Resource Fair.
Students were also encouraged to take part in the Purple Tie Campaign and the White Ribbon Campaign to raise awareness and pledge to end domestic violence.