NDSU Holds Talking Circle for Women’s History Month

In honor of March, Women’s History Month, NDSU Women and Gender Studies hosted an event to speak on topics such as dating or partner violence and domestic abuse. The day began with guest speaker, Ms. Lindsey Graf, and was followed by a talking circle about intimate partner violence and the impacts of this experience. The goal was to invite individuals to this event to spread awareness about this type of violence and encourage healthy conversations about this topic. Kristine Paranica, NDSU’s first Ombudsperson, was able to comment on the intentions of holding an event like this. “The presentation itself was a story of struggle, courage and hope for all who heard it and participated in the talking circle,” said Paranica. 

Many different groups and individuals played a part in facilitating and running this event. WGS, Women and Gender Studies, was supported by individuals such as Dr. Alison Graham-Bertolini, Dr. Ashley Baggett and NDSU’s sexual assault prevention & advocacy coordinator, Megan Talcott, along with help from the NDSU Restorative Practices Network who provides the circle keepers facilitating these important conversations on campus. The circle keepers involved in this event specifically include Paranica and Melissa Lamp, assistant to the provost. Community members and individuals who participated in this event spoke on the issue and explored the topic and their own emotional reactions to these issues, and then participated in a closing ceremony consisting of a poem. 

An event like this holds deep meaning and importance to everyone involved. This was a unique experience offered to provide the campus community with a deeper understanding of domestic abuse, more specifically, the what, why and how of abuse, and how victims, families, and communities are impacted by these experiences giving students an opportunity to hear from a survivor of domestic abuse, listen to her story and engage and interact with it in a safe space. 

The goal of events like this is not only to inform but to attempt to elicit change in the community. “Ultimately, we hope that the awareness about domestic violence from the voices of people who have faced it will help others to understand the impact and to find help if they or their loved ones are in violent relationships,” said Paranica when asked on how we will be able to see changes in the community from how the student population has been impacted by this event. NDSU provides a multitude of resources to the campus community including the Sexual Assault Prevention & Advocacy Coordinator, the NDSU Counseling Center, and others. Widespread education on the topic is prevention. 

The Restorative Practices Network advertises talking circles to the NDSU community as a way to follow difficult events in society. A variety of circles are held anywhere from introductory circles and specific topics to responsive circles. For any interest in the facilitation of events like this, training in the circle-keeping process is offered periodically. 

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