Updated 10/29/19: Some of the language in this article has been updated.
A dozen members of the ASUC Intimate Partner Violence Commission gathered at a meeting Wednesday to share strategies for helping survivors of abuse and to discuss outreach efforts on campus and beyond.
Chair of the commission and campus senior Ana Mancia, a certified domestic violence counselor who founded the commission as a freshman, led the meeting. As someone passionate about ending domestic violence, Mancia said she noticed her first year that campus offered resources related to sexual violence but not to intimate partner violence in particular.
“It’s my way of giving back and making sure people know there’s a specific resource for domestic violence,” Mancia said. “Students here think it might not happen to college students.”
Intimate partner violence, or dating violence, is any type of physical or emotional abuse that a person uses against their partner, according to Mancia. Domestic violence is defined as abuse between family members and can occur between those who may not be in an intimate relationship.
The commission offers training to campus groups, including sororities, fraternities and student organizations, and holds workshops about intimate partner violence and domestic abuse at high schools and middle schools throughout the East Bay.
After a round of introductions, members discussed their most recent program, a workshop for students at Willard Middle School in Berkeley about healthy relationships and boundaries. At the workshop, commission members asked students to write down and discuss what it means to have a healthy relationship or to be a good friend.
“The girls were really insightful,” said Tanaell Reyes, a commission member who attended the workshop. “They had lots of interesting things to say and were really responsive to activities.”
Commission members then dove into a thorough training about helping survivors, which occupied most of their meeting. Members shared stories of helping survivors navigate abuse, while Mancia offered strategies for helping survivors regain safety and control.
Mancia encouraged commission members to remember why survivors might not leave abusive relationships — for reasons including financial dependence, cultural forces, denial of abuse or threat of harm. Mancia urged those at the meeting to neither blame survivors nor advise survivors to leave a relationship right away if it could put a survivor in an unsafe situation.
Some options that Mancia listed for helping survivors included making a comprehensive safety plan for leaving an abuser, encouraging them to seek a guidance counselor through campus services such as PATH to Care and suggesting that they move in with friends or go to a local domestic violence shelter. Mancia also encouraged those helping survivors to keep checking in with them well after a relationship has ended.
“A lot of the students who find me have a friend going through an abusive relationship and don’t know how to help,” Mancia said at the meeting. “Once people know you do this work, you become known for having expertise in dating violence, and people will come to you for help.”
A previous version of this article’s photo credit misspelled Ana Claire Mancia’s name.