Title IX office hosts events to illuminate domestic violence awareness

By Ashley A. Williams

Title IX office hosts events to illuminate domestic violence awareness

By Ashley A. Williams
Held throughout October, National Domestic Violence Awareness Month honors survivors and is a voice for its victims.

This October, the University of Miami Title IX office is commemorating Domestic Violence Awareness Month in a year that has seen increased intimate partner violence cases largely because of the global pandemic and the March stay-at-home orders. 

To help raise awareness about this important topic and to be a voice for its victims, the Title IX team led by Beverly Pruitt, assistant vice president for workplace equity and inclusion, will be hosting three events on Oct. 22, Oct. 27, and Oct. 28. 

“It’s always very important to recognize such a topic but particularly this year, because unfortunately, domestic violence has been a side effect to COVID-19,” said Maria Sevilla, deputy Title IX coordinator. “It is more important than ever to raise awareness, provide resources, and show support for individuals who are in abusive relationships during this particularly difficult time.” 

To kick off their programming, the Title IX team is hosting “Purple Thursday,” a virtual initiative on Oct. 22 where participants will show their support and solidarity for survivors and its victims by using a purple virtual background for the day. 

The following week, on Tuesday, Oct. 27, connect with the Title IX office and It’s On Us Ambassadors for an interactive session on building healthy relationships.   

On Wednesday, Oct. 28, Sevilla will moderate Breaking the Cycle: A Domestic Violence Panel Discussion. The virtual event will feature Steven Paulson, a senior domestic violence attorney; Marilyn Gauthier, a University of Miami Police Department detective; Audrey Cleary, a University Counseling Center licensed clinical psychologist; and Nathaly Baldeon Erazo, a registered clinical social work intern for the Coordinated Victims Assistance Center. 

“The University policy prohibits domestic violence,” said Sevilla. “We have counseling services available both through the Counseling Center and through the Faculty and Staff Assistance Program.” 

The Title IX office can also facilitate referrals to legal services or connect individuals with the police if they are interested in reporting an incident. 

“If you know someone, or if you yourself are experiencing domestic violence or dating violence,  we recommend that you reach out to our office. So, we can review all of the options and resources specific to your case. And know that we are here to help,” said Sevilla.

By definition, domestic violence or intimate partner violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or abusive behavior as part of a systemic pattern of power and control perpetuated by one intimate partner against another. Amid the pandemic, the National Domestic Violence Hotline reportedly has experienced a 9 percent increase in calls. 

Title IX is a federal civil rights law passed as part of the Education Amendments of 1972. This law protects people from discrimination based on sex in educational programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance. Covered persons at educational institutions are protected by Title IX—regardless of their sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, part- or full-time status, disability, race, or national origin—in all aspects of the institution’s educational programs and activities. 

For more information,  visit the University’s Title IX website.