On Feb. 12  and 13, UM’s Freshman Forum hosted Be My Vallo Valentine outside of Anna Irvin Dining Hall. The event was aimed at selling candy grams to raise money for SafeHouse of Shelby County, an organization dedicated to offering aid and counseling to survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

Domestic violence is a major issue in the U.S., and according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, one in three women and one in four men will be victims of intimate partner violence at some point in their lifetime.

Some might be wondering how one categorizes domestic and sexual violence. SafeHouse defines domestic abuse as “a pattern of behavior in any relationship used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner, including any behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone.”

This behavior usually happens within cycles where a victim is abused, and then the relationship stabilizes, appearing happy and normal as the aggressor may “changes” for the better. However, these intervals are usually followed by increased tension and abuse. This situation can play out over months, or it can go through a whole cycle in the course of a day.

Despite common beliefs that say otherwise, domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of one’s age, gender, sexual orientation, education level, socioeconomic status or religion. Abuse also occurs in many forms: physical, sexual, emotional, financial, psychological, technological and spiritual.

SafeHouse defines sexual violence as “a crime that occurs when an assailant forces sexual contact upon a person without their consent, or who is incapable of providing consent, either due to their age or physical or mental capacity.” Sexual Violence includes rape, incest, child molestation, marital rape, exposure and sodomy.

SafeHouse offers 24/7 services for sexual assault survivors, such as forensic exams, counseling and legal advocacy, all of which are free and confidential.

To learn more about SafeHouse and their services, call 205-6691877 or visit www.safehouse.org.

If you are experiencing domestic are sexual violence, you can contact their 24-Hour Crisis Line: (205) 669-7233 (SAFE)