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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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SSAA Battles Against Domestic Violence

The prevention of domestic violence has become a major theme across the United States. At UB, one group looks to combat rape and domestic violence.

The Student Survivor Advocacy Alliance (SSAA) was formed in 2006 with the goal of educating the public about domestic abuse issues and preventing future instances of domestic abuse. By teaming with Wellness Education Services, the two programs have made progress toward that goal.

"We know that the numbers can change, but they're not going to change by themselves," said Anna Peryea, a violence prevention specialist with Wellness Education Services.

Previous groups dealing with domestic violence have focused more on aiding those who were abused. There were no groups on campus and only a few groups around the country that dealt with the activism side of the issue.

"[Previous groups] weren't a good way for survivors to get involved," Peryea said, "[They] weren't tailored to [a survivors] needs."

SSAA is not only geared toward women or survivors of domestic violence; it is open to all of UB. Melissa Piciulo, a graduate student interning in the Wellness Education Services, joined the group a few weeks. Although she has never been abused, she is no stranger to the issue. Both of Piciulo's sisters were abused by their boyfriends, and her involvement in SSAA proves that domestic violence affects more than just those directly harmed.

"There is definitely a personal connection for all of us [with domestic violence]," Peryea said.

In addition to Peryea, group leaders Ashley Bennett, a graduate student in the school of social work, and Kara Fitzpatrick, a graduate student in the Social Sciences Interdisciplinary Degree Program, work with a small group of dedicated members to achieve remarkable amounts.

The group held a letter writing campaign against Amazon for selling a videogame that featured a character whose main objective was to rape women and children. The game was banned in the U.S., but somehow was still available on Amazon. SSAA succeeded in having the game removed from the site.

"[People] try to trivialize and minimalize [violence] and make it more accepted," Bennett said, "Culture change can happen so easily."

Peryea and Bennett will be traveling to Orlando, Fla. on Oct. 21 to present on domestic violence prevention at a conference put on by the School and College Organization for Prevention Educators (SCOPE).

The mission of SCOPE is to effectively promote the aims of the prevention community, to examine the causes of violence, health and safety risks within society.

One way the group is promoting positive community awareness is the Walk With Me walkathon being held Wednesday in the Student Union. Participants can join by picking up a free purple bandanna to symbolize Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Participants are also collecting donations for Haven House, a shelter for abused victims. Haven House strengthens the community through programs that produce positive practices for youth and their families, according to its mission statement.

Email: features@ubspectrum.com


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