Women’s Studies plans violence awareness event

In recognition of Women’s History Month, Youngstown State University’s women’s studies department will present a panel discussion on Friday to raise campus awareness of violence toward women.

“Women Against Violence Everywhere” will be held in the Jones Room of Kilcawley Center at noon and will cover issues such as rape, trauma, domestic violence and verbal abuse.

“It’s our duty to find ways to reach out to [women] who are struggling with some of these issues,” said Diana Palardy, director of women studies and facilitator of the event.

The panel will be led by Lynn Bilal from the Rape Crisis and Counseling Center, Johanna Slivinske from the YSU Department of Social Work and PsyCare, and Malinda Gavins, program director of the Sojourner House Domestic Violence Services of Mahoning County.

During the panel, Gavins will discuss the warning signs of domestic violence, the resources available to those in abusive relationships and the options that women can take — such as making a “safety plan.”

Palardy said that certain behaviors could create a culture in which verbal abuse and degradation of the opposite sex is considered more acceptable and that violence is a symptom of these cultural traits.

“You see a lot of misogynistic behavior,” she said. “Like sometimes, you see clips on the Internet and people are acting very derogatory [toward women] in general.”

Palardy encourages both men and women to attend the event.

“I think it’s problematic when people think that to address issues related to violence that only women should be talking about it,” she said. “We should really have both men and [women] coming to events like this. … Men might not be aware if some of their behaviors are kind of, like, borderline behaviors.”

Bilal has been working for the Rape Crisis and Counseling Center in Mahoning County for nearly 20 years and has been director of the program for more than three years. She said she hopes this panel discussion will encourage rape victims to speak out and report that they’ve been sexually assaulted.

“It’s still one of the most under-reported violent crimes, and I’m hoping that events like this that brings about awareness to let people know that you don’t have to go through this process by yourself,” she said.