NSights Blog

Shedding Light on Domestic Violence: A crucial conversation for the University of Nevada, Reno community

Domestic violence isn’t just a topic in the news or a statistic. It’s personal, real and closer than you think.

By Pamela B. Payne, Ph.D., CFLE, Clair Thomas, Elizabeth Ornelas and Farrah Stockett

Everyone knows someone. Over 10 million people experience domestic violence each year, one in three women and one in four men experience domestic violence, and those numbers are likely much higher. The story of Piqui and his mother, Ana, are among the many stories that propel our team to action.

Ana Estevez, a survivor of domestic violence, is a firm believer in higher education. She made education her life’s work, working as an elementary school principal for over 20 years. She holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in education. Having an education doesn’t remove you from being a victim of domestic violence. Ana changed her focus away from education after her son Piqui was brutally murdered by his father during family court proceedings. Her work following this tragedy has led to the creation of Piqui’s Law (CA SB 331). Unfortunately, Piqui and Ana’s story is not unique.

Why is domestic violence everyone's concern?

Domestic violence isn't selective. It transcends socioeconomic statuses, cultures and age groups. Often, societal norms, family practices and cultural beliefs mask the severity of domestic violence, pushing it into the shadows.

The University of Nevada, Reno, is no exception. We're not just an academic institution but a community that thrives on understanding, compassion, and mutual respect. Together, we can lead the charge against domestic violence by erasing biases, educating ourselves and being empathetic listeners. 

The evolution of domestic violence awareness

October is a pivotal month. It's Domestic Violence Awareness Month, —a month where stories of survival intertwine with activism, giving a beacon of hope to those still trapped in the clutches of abuse.

From the first modern-era battered women's shelter established in 1974 in Minnesota, to the U.S. passing the Family Violence Prevention and Services Act in 1984, to the more comprehensive Violence Against Women Act in 1994, we've come a long way. Nevada recently passed bills to increase survivor access to medical care and preventative education in schools. But the journey is far from over.

Purple: more than just a color

Why purple? It's a hue representing healing, transformation, and courage. In the context of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, purple signifies our collective stand against domestic violence. 

The costs of ignorance

Domestic violence doesn’t only inflict emotional and physical scars. Its ripples are felt economically too. Lost productivity, ballooning health care costs and legal liabilities, estimated in billions annually, prove that no sector remains untouched by the pernicious effects of domestic violence.

Empowerment through knowledge

Knowledge is our biggest ally. Debunking myths, understanding the signs, and being prepared to take action are paramount. That's why initiatives like Extension and the College of Education & Human Development’s Hope Team 40-Hour Hope Advocacy Training are pivotal. This training will help advocates understand the ways in which domestic violence impacts every facet of a survivor’s life. Scheduled to launch January 2024, this initiative is a collaboration between the College of Education & Human Development and College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources at the University of Nevada, Reno that will help attendees harness the power of information.

A call to action

To every survivor at the University of Nevada, Reno, we say: You are not alone. Your voice matters. We see you. You matter. To the larger community, we say: We all have a role. We all know someone. Let’s educate ourselves, be empathetic listeners, and actively support platforms and programs aimed at eradicating domestic violence and stopping the cycle of violence in our communities.

Because in the end, a society is only as strong as its weakest link. And the fight against domestic violence is a fight we all need to be a part of. 

For more information about domestic violence and the work that Extension and the College of Education & Human Development’s HOPE team at the University is doing around Nevada, please email the HOPE team.

Pamela Payne headshot.