One Love raises awareness for domestic violence

Mackenzie Ross

It was the annual “Week of Welcome” two years ago at The University of Alabama, and Maury Holliman looked through the different booths. After a bit of looking, she saw someone familiar: her high school teacher. Her former teacher volunteered at the University’s Women’s Resource Center to help victims of abusive relationships, and before long, she convinced Holliman to join the WRC’s Student Leadership Council.

Holliman is one of many students and faculty members on the University’s campus who seek an end to dating and domestic violence. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five college women will experience some form of relationship violence in her 
college career.

“A lot of students don’t realize how sneaky interpersonal violence can be,” said Holliman, a junior majoring in psychology. “Sometimes it takes you a while to realize how unhealthy something can be in a relationship.”

Tanya Asim Cooper, a law professor at the University, has done extensive research on the issue of relationship violence, 
specifically in the Greek community.

“The definition of relationship violence confuses a lot of people because it includes both dating and domestic violence,” 
she said.

Cooper defined relationship abuse as “a pattern of controlling and coercive behavior over a period of time.”

Danielle DuBose, a senior majoring in accounting and political science, has used her title as Miss University of Alabama to increase awareness for relationship 
violence mainly through raising money and presentations to sororities. She said people’s misconceptions about the issue stem from their lack of knowledge with it.

“It’s not easy for [victims] to leave that situation most of the time,” she said. “A lot of the time we say we don’t have sympathy for that victim because she could leave that situation at any time, but people don’t understand all of the underlying issues taking place in the situation.”

DuBose said she believes relationship violence primarily impacts college-age students because they are in a new environment away from their family and 
everything familiar.

While women are primarily the victims, relationship violence affects men too. According to Cooper, 16 percent of all men are the victims of relationship violence.

“My guess is men are not reporting it because we have a victim-blaming and man-shaming society when it comes to dating and domestic violence and sexual assault,” Holliman said. “I think it’s happening more prevalently to both sexes, but it’s just a lack of reporting. We have to change the culture if we want to fix 
the problem.”

DuBose said she is proud of the response the University has had toward this issue. She hosted an educational event in November called Shatter the Silence, which over 350 people attended. DuBose said she hopes people continue talking about this issue and the resources available to people struggling with relationship violence.

The One Love Foundation produces the One Love My Plan App where individuals can take a quiz to determine if their relationship is violent. The 
University’s Women’s Resource Center provides counseling services and the University’s Law School Legal Clinic advises about legal options. Turning Point, Tuscaloosa’s domestic violence shelter, also helps adults and family members experiencing 
relationship violence.

While the University and Tuscaloosa provide resources for victims of relationship violence, she said change starts with the student generation.

“Young people have always been what moves this world forward,” Holliman said. “And I think that if we don’t care about it, this movement will lose momentum – this movement to change how we talk about this issue and to help people.”