On Monday night, students were able to hear from Butler Victim Outreach Intervention Center (VOICe) in a program titled “Gendered Violence: Where’s the Love?” hosted by the Gender Studies Program, Pride Center, Women’s Center and President’s Commission for Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation (GISO).
Kaitlyn Veiock, a Slippery Rock graduate who works at VOICe, talked about intimate partner violence (IPV), with a focus on LGBTQI relationships.
Veiock started off by showing ads for men’s and women’s products and pointed out the differences and what this says to society. As companies cater to this kind of audience, that is what the audience becomes, she said.
“You don’t even know you’re seeing these things since you are born,” Veiock said. She explained how society’s perception of gender has evolved over time to create a “box” of men and women’s traits, and we fear being anything different.
Veiock and the audience agreed that the “perfect woman” or “perfect man” is something society has made rules for and has put feminine and masculine traits in a box we feel forced to adhere to. We all live inside these boxes society puts us in, she said.
“What happens when you’re outside of that box?” Veiock asked. Veiock sees that they are called names and are picked on for being different. When these words aren’t enough to change the person, it turns to physical violence. In fear of this, we often portray ourselves to live inside this box.
“You spend your whole life acting as what society thinks you are,” Veiock said.
Dealing with victims and perpetrators of IPV, Veiock shared that the reason IPV happens all boils down to the same thing. Fear of a loss of power and control in a relationship leads to abuse, she said.
Veiock explained how IPV grows using the analogy of cooking a frog. When you cook a frog, you don’t put it in boiling water right away, because it will just jump out immediately. Instead, you put the frog in room temperature water and slowly crank up the heat. In relationships, violence can start out small and continue to grow. This makes the victim feel like it is okay or they are being irrational, she said.
“The average victim in an abusive relationship tries to get out seven times before they get out or end up dead. And that is why I am here today,” Veiock said.
Veiock then focused on LGBTQI relationship violence, and how it may be harder for them to call an outreach center because they have to “out” themselves. If you’re a woman and have to call about your abusive girlfriend and they ask about your boyfriend, it may be harder to share, she said.
“Imagine being told you relationship isn’t valid,” Veiock said. She admits sometimes she slips up too and it is something we all have to learn.
Veiock also shared some statistics, showing that 13 percent of lesbians, 46 percent of bisexuals and 48 percent of heterosexuals will experience sexual violence in their lifetime, and men and women can both either be perpetrators or victims.
It is important for students to report violence and be open and accepting to anyone in trouble. Veiock reminded us of our campus resources, like the Student Health Center and Student Counseling Center in Rhoads Hall.
VOICe’s 24/7 free hotline is 1-(800)-400-8551.