TOPEKA — The YWCA of Topeka's 18th annual YWCA Week Without Violence continues this week. Kansans will join with people in 60 countries to mark the week-long series of events promoting diverse approaches to creating a violence-free world. The local event is organized by a committee of community leaders and sponsored by the YWCA of Topeka and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas.
The theme of this year’s Topeka YWCA Week Without Violence encourages individuals to “Be The One” to end domestic and sexual violence.
“Everyone can make a difference, by standing up, by speaking out, by teaching others, by being the one to comfort a loved one or to have a tough conversation with a friend” said Laura Burton, Public Education Coordinator at the YWCA Center for Safety and Empowerment.
This year’s YWCA Week Without Violence features a Bystander Intervention Training alongside eight other unique events. The bystander training is open to anyone in the community and will give people concrete skills for intervening to stop violence. Local case studies, vignettes, videos and discussions will teach ways to talk to victims and perpetrators, how to engage other bystanders, dealing with backlash and more. This training is sponsored by Washburn University's Student Media Department.
“We’re excited to be involved in this event because on campus, the student safety is what’s most important. When people see violence, they want to help, but it’s hard to know what to do and who to call.”
said Washburn University Student Media Department member Bita Givechi.
Bita Givechi also has a personal connection to the importance of bystander intervention. Six years ago, she found herself in an increasingly violent abusive relationship. A close friend of hers became concerned and contacted her father and brother, who helped her quickly move to another state to escape the violence.
“Things would have ended very differently if my friend hadn’t acted.
People don’t have to have the answer, they just have to do something positive to help” explained Bita.
The 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 10 men have been affected by rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by a partner. Thousands are served by the YWCA Center for Safety Empowerment each year through services including a 24-hour crisis helpline, emergency shelter, individual counseling, support groups, court advocacy, prevention programming and batterer’s intervention. The YWCA Week Without Violence helps raise awareness of domestic violence and the availability of services.
This week's remaining events are:
• Domestic Violence in the Workplace Training
Wednesday, October 17th; 8:00am - 12:00 noon at the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas Corporate Training Center The issue of workplace safety is important for employers, making domestic violence awareness a vitally important piece of a safe and healthy work environment. At this training, participants will hear from experts about how domestic violence affects the workplace, how to recognize warning signs, how to develop effective workplace policies and resources for businesses. This event is sponsored by Soroptimist International of Topeka and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas.
• BE THE ONE Bystander Intervention Training
Wednesday, October 17; 5:30 till 7:30 in the Washburn University Memorial Union, Vogel Room This interactive training will give people concrete skills for intervening to stop violence. Discussions will include ways to talk to victims and perpetrators, how to engage other bystanders, dealing with backlash and more. Videos, skits and local case studies will empower attendees to stand up, speak out, get involved and BE THE ONE who makes a difference. This event is sponsored by Washburn University's Student Media Department.
• Miss Representation Film Screening
Thursday, October 18; 6:30 pm - 8:45 pm at the Topeka and Shawnee County Public Library, Marvin Auditorium 101B Like drawing back a curtain to let bright light stream in, Miss Representation (90 min; TV-14 DL) uncovers a glaring reality we live with every day but fail to see. Written and directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, the film exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself. Description from www.missrepresentation.org
• 19th Annual March and Rally to End Domestic Violence
Friday, October 19th; Starts at noon at the Kansas Capitol Building, South Steps Ends at approximately 12:30 the YWCA of Topeka, North Entrance This banner event of the YWCA Week Without Violence attracts hundreds of marchers against violence. Participants will travel through downtown to the YWCA where they can enjoy a free hot dog lunch and participate in action stations to learn how to stay involved. The march will take place rain or shine, but in the case of severe weather, participants may come directly to the YWCA for lunch and action stations indoors.