September 18, 2019
Student-Led Advocacy On Domestic Violence
After interning for Karen Jarmoc P ’14, ’14, ’17 chief executive officer of the CT Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CCAD) this summer, Esha Shrivastav ’20 and Anusha Memon ’20 are continuing their advocacy work on the KO campus to spread awareness about domestic violence and the manifestation of aggression and hostility in teen relationships.
Both students took control of the organization’s social media and marketing platform, which provides victims’ advocacy in court, emergency shelter, counseling, and a 24-hour hotline. They helped in plans to create a Snapchat campaign before February’s Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. (The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence states that 1.5 million U.S high school students experience physical abuse in relationships.)
The two students also will assist in producing a monthly podcast that features experts on different topics such as abusive relationships, how to spot a toxic relationship, and how to remove yourself from one.
Memon said, “I think it is important to educate people on domestic violence and its impact on people. The projects Esha and I worked on this summer will help spread awareness about this pressing issue throughout Connecticut. We also thought it was important to bring the topic to KO, which is why we are working on a project for February, including a podcast. It is important for us to implement a program at KO to teach boys and girls how to be in a healthy relationship and learn the signs of domestic violence.”
“I’ve always understood that situations regarding domestic violence were delicate, but the biggest revelation for me was just how delicate they really and how careful you need to be. When you’re on the hotline, there are specific things you can say and specific terminology you need to use to avoid triggering the victim. There are many things you need to factor,” Shrivastav said.
CCAD is implementing an initiative, “Coaching Boys Into Men,” a nationwide program around sports teams that, according to the organization’s press release, “trains and motivates coaches to teach young male athletes healthy relationship skills and that violence never equals strength.” The two students were active in bringing “Coaching Boys into Men to KO.”
“Hopefully soon we can bring a program to KO that talks to girls directly as well,” said Shrivastav.
“The program teaches boys how to respect women, what is inappropriate behavior and what are unwelcome sexual advancements. Our KO coaches will talk to the teams for 15 minutes weekly throughout the season. They are short, informal conversations, and the information is not too overwhelming. We think it’s a really effective way to get the message across to boys. It doesn’t just cover what you should do but why,” Shrivastav said.
The mission of “Coaching Boys to Men” program aligns with KO’s core values of integrity and respect. KO’s Athletic Director, Debbie Fiske partnered with this program and served on a panel announcing the program’s launch recently.
“The mentality in professional sports emphasizes ‘toughness.’ My hope through this program with our scholar-athletes is to teach them not only to play hard but also to emphasize the importance of character, empathy, and respect. Those two ideas are not mutually exclusive,” Fiske said.