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Sojourn Shelter, UIS Women’s Center collecting cell phones and promoting awareness

Sojourn Shelter, UIS Women’s Center collecting cell phones and promoting awareness

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and UIS students are encouraged to drop off their used cell phones and chargers at the Women’s Center. “The Women’s Center does this cell phone drive every October, it’s an opportunity to raise awareness, to remind people that dating and domestic violence need their attention,” Otterson said.

The longer an abusive relationship progresses, the more dangerous it can become over time. Tami Silverman, CEO of the Sojourn Shelter in Springfield, says that one in four women will likely be victims of domestic violence including some UIS students. Silverman is working along with UIS Women’s Center to raise awareness about domestic abuse.

Students will be given a purple ribbon in support of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The electronic items will be collected in early November, and given to the Sojourn Shelter, a non-profit that helps  people in need. Lynn Otterson, the Director of the Women’s Center, explained that used cell phones, even without a phone company, can still dial 911. “Shelters would give a phone to a woman who is not safe, and maybe give her four or five phones; one to put in every closet or every room in the house.  So if she got trapped in the room, and she wasn’t safe, she could dial 911,” Otterson said

This lifeline has expanded to shelters across the country, and phone companies are returning the favor to victims of domestic violence.  “What’s happened is the cell phone companies have started giving shelters a little bit of money for every one phone they turn in,” Otterson said.

Along with the recycling aspect, the phone drive wants to educate college students about what is acceptable in a dating relationship. Otterson says that most young people may not think a push, shove, or a little aggressive talk may be acceptable in a relationship.  “That’s why I like putting the two words together in October. We’re growing that idea in their minds, that they, their friends, roommate, may need help with a relationship they are in. It can be a serious matter,” Otterson said.

Silverman explained that the rates of relationship violence are slightly higher for teens versus adults, because the experience is new to younger people. The same rules apply to a dating couple of two months as a married couple of 20 years.

“It’s something that varies, the longer somebody is violent, it does escalate over time. They may ask questions like, ‘I don’t like your friend!’ ‘I don’t like what you’re wearing!’ It can lead to physical and violent behavior. As they gain power over that person, they seek it out more and more,” Silverman said.

Otterson points out that dating violence can cost money, and lead to psychological and emotional damage. “I think reducing violence and understanding the causes of victimhood and causes of being a perpetrator can lead to a healing for our society and world in essentially every way,” Otterson said.

Resources are available to UIS students at the UIS Women’s Center located in the Student Life building. Students that cannot make it are encouraged to talk with their R.A. or call Sojourn Shelter’s twenty-four hour hotline (217-726-5200).

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