Tender Loving CARE in October

Phuc Pham | New University

Aside from the Halloween season, October is Domestic Violence Awareness month.  One of the places on campus that can be seen observing this important month is the UCI Campus Assault Resources and Education (CARE) office, a service that educates students on topics of sexual abuse, maintaining healthy relationships and individual safety.

The CARE office aims to inform students about assault and safety issues, as these are very prevalent concerns among university students. Nearly one in three college students (32 percent) report dating violence by a previous partner, and 21 percent report violence by a current partner, with women aged 16 to 24 experiencing the highest rate of relationship abuse.

Nationally, more than 30 percent of women are killed in the United States by a current or former boyfriend or a husband. When it comes to statistical analysis on campus, more than half (60 percent) of acquaintance rapes on college campuses occur in casual or steady dating relationships. Whereas female students are sexually and physically abused at higher rates than males, male and transgender students encounter verbal and emotional abuse at relatively similar rates. More so than often, sexual violence occurs through someone the victim knows.

Zahabiyah Khorakiwala is the respected Violence Prevention Coordinator at CARE.

“I coordinate the educational trainings and prevention programs related to sexual assault, dating and domestic violence, and stalking,” Khorakiwala said when asked about her role.

Her priority is to “commit [her] time and energy to support survivors on a daily basis.” As a survivor of violence and a UCI alumna, Khorakiwala understands the importance of having a supportive program for fellow anteaters, especially among college-educated students.

CARE is also involved in awareness and prevention programs and is a leader of notable events including Take Back The Night, Denim Day and the Clothesline Project. Take Back The Night is a candlelit march among the survivors of sexual abuse. During this event, vivid images are displayed showcasing the effects of sexual assault, as well as the profound impact it has on society. As the evening ceases, speakers are welcomed to share their experiences and spread awareness through warm words.

The Clothesline Project was formed among victims of sexual abuse by having different colored shirts made in honor of their experiences. This is unlike any other arts and crafts club as the shirts are created by the brave people who send their message through the powerful words and images that they create. The shirts are designed with graphic images and tell the stories of the survivors.

Denim Day is an outward example of how a community can help change people’s perceptions about violence through different approaches that are also considered to be sexual assault. The campaign began in 1999 when an Italian Supreme Court overruled the charges of a 45-year old suspect thought to be involved with the rape of an 18-year old victim who appeared to be wearing jeans during the violent encounter.

Nowadays, jeans are most often worn among students because of their comfort and style. However, this was not the case for the 18-year old victim whom the Court ruled that wearing jeans during the violent encounter would have made it much more difficult for the suspect to make his attempt. The Court’s decision  brought attention to this injustice and inspired others to speak out against this action.

Another program sponsored by the CARE Office is the Annual UCI Hopeline Drive, which helps victims of domestic abuse or sexual violence by recycling previously used wireless phones. In some situations, victims do not have access to any means of communication as a call for help. To aid in solving this problem, students are encouraged to donate their old cell phones to this cause.

In addition to the Hopeline Drive, there is a “Spread the Love” campaign. If you enjoy taking pictures, then now is your turn to be on the other side of the camera. Visit the CARE office and have your picture taken holding a sign asking how you will spread the love this month, and be entered to win a $100 CHASE gift card for receiving the most likes on Facebook by the end of October.

If you have ever known a family, friend, or loved one that has been a victim of domestic abuse, then now is the time to reach out and show your support. Start off your fall quarter by getting involved in one of the leading programs at CARE. RTK (Right to KNOW), a female peer-education group, and CHAMPS (Challenging All Men to Prevent Sexism), a male peer-education group, are student programs    that spread awareness about sexual violence issues to the campus and  local community. During the fall recruitment, trainees must attend 15 hours of training, as well as take part in workshops and events provided.

CARE offers confidential services that are free of charge to all currently enrolled students. For more information, please visit the Student Center in Suite G320 or contact (949) 824-7273.