Bridging the Gap event aims to further discussion of intimate partner violence prevention

“No matter what has happened to you, you’re not alone in this experience.”

That is the message the University of Oregon’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Education’s Student Directors McKenna O’Dougherty and Anjuli Chitkara want to deliver to attendees of the Bridging the Gap: Interpersonal Violence Research Symposium on Friday, April 21. The event is set to be held in Global Scholars Hall Great Room 123 and will run from 12 to 3 p.m.

“I’ve noticed a lot of folks doing interpersonal violence research, but no one talks to each other,” said O’Dougherty. “My goal was to create a space where people could meet.” 

Both O’Dougherty and Chitkara collaborated to coordinate the event and have worked for months to bring everything to fruition.

The symposium is intended to bring together researchers from the university as well as community members for the purpose of igniting the discussion of intimate partner violence prevention research and awareness.

“To me, it’s a really beautiful opportunity because the people who do this work are often isolated and one step away from each other, even if they care about the same thing,” said O’Dougherty.

When it comes to prevention and protection, organizations like Womenspace are also working to adjust and eliminate certain terminology used to refer to these acts.

“That’s why we’re moving away from [the term] ‘domestic violence,’ ” said Sarah Libby, the community engagement specialist for Womenspace. “‘Intimate partner’ can be someone you aren’t married to.” Libby is a co-presenter at the symposium with Darin Dorsey, the Engaging Allies coordinator for Sexual Assault Support Services.

Multiple departments are involved in the event, including clinical psychology, the law school and the women’s and gender studies department. There are also non-university entities such as SASS and Womenspace.  

UO’s record for reported cases of intimate partner violence has seen a steady decrease since 2013, according to UO Annual Campus Security and Fire Safety Reports. Documents show that in 2013, there were seven reported incidences of intimate partner violence on campus, whereas in 2014 there were only three. In 2015 only one incident was reported.

Local nonprofits like Womenspace and SASS are presenting at the symposium, bringing community engagement together with the university’s research resources.

“Because the UO is a huge part of this community, we can’t work to end violence without it,” Dorsey said.

With April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month, Bridging the Gap hopes to bring forward the importance of being able to talk about subjects like intimate partner violence, what it may look like and access that survivors have throughout the university and the greater Eugene community.

“This campus and this world have been working really hard to figure out the best ways to take care of one another,” said O’Dougherty.



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Erin Carey

Erin Carey

Erin Carey is a Senior Reporter, majoring in Journalism and minoring in Comparative Literature. She loves coffee, hockey and telling visitors at the Oregon Zoo random facts about the animals.