By Chloe Huard
LANSING — Samm Rae knows only too well the horror that comes with domestic violence. She has witnessed it firsthand.
“My best friend was a lesbian and she got together with another one of my friends. It was terrible,” Rae said. “Until I literally saw the bruises I didn’t take it seriously.”
Rae, who works at the Hot Topic store in Lansing Mall, wishes that people paid more attention to domestic violence situations because they are not “thinking about what it really is.”
“I feel like it’s overlooked a lot,” said the 21-year-old, who said she has also witnessed domestic violence in her own family.
October is domestic violence awareness month, and the city of Lansing has already done its part to acknowledge it. On Oct. 2, the organization End Violent Encounters (EVE) held a candlelight vigil in Lansing to remember the victims of domestic violence. Rachel Berzack, the community relations coordinator for EVE, said the cause is incredibly important.
“Everybody is affected whether you have been directly affected or not,” Berzack said. “It happens more than it should, and it happens behind closed doors.”
The goal of EVE is to provide shelter and services to victims of domestic violence while seeking to end it through education.
In addition to a 24-hour crisis line that operates seven days a week, EVE offers a number of services to victims including a temporary emergency shelter and services for both individuals and groups that have suffered from domestic violence. EVE is also active in the community, providing advocacy services and education programs.
“We have strong community partners,” said Berzack, who has worked with EVE for over a year. “We’re working closely with other organizations to accomplish our goals.”
Community members in Lansing know enough about domestic violence to realize that education is important. Susan Smith said the public should be educated in “a quiet way.”
“A lot of education can come from women’s health clinics,” said Smith, a Kroger employee who lives in Lansing. “Domestic violence is a jealousy situation, and people have a hard time knowing the way out.”
Smith also said domestic violence could go either way.
“Men can be abused by women and vice versa,” Smith said. “People should speak to the one who is abused and let them know there is help.”
Rae thinks the problem with domestic violence is the way people perceive it.
“They’re in a relationship. You have to look at it from that standpoint,” Rae said. “Why are you doing that?”
Berzack said domestic violence is successful because “people who do it are good at isolation.”
“By helping people and engaging community members, we combat domestic violence,” Berzack said.
Rae hopes that more people continue to get involved in the cause. She said that her friend’s relationship did eventually end, but only after a really bad night.
“If you ever are friends with two people in a relationship and there are any hints, take them seriously,” Rae said. “If I had understood the extent of it, I would have done something.”