It is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and as a way to honor victims of domestic violence, RWU Dance & Performance Studies students came together to STAND. On Oct. 15, they gathered in RWU’s D’Angelo Common outside of the university’s library while still following COVID-19 guidelines, with each masked student lying six feet away from each other.
STAND is an annual hour-long performance art event where students slowly move from a prone position to STAND-ing on their two feet, thus symbolizing how long it can often take victims to remove themselves from abusive situations, recover and then rebuild their lives.
The event itself began eight years ago as a collaboration between Professor of Dance & Performance Studies Cathy Nicoli and Title IX Coordinator Dr. Jennifer Stanley. It is now also in partnership with the National Silent Witness Initiative and RWU’s Title IX Office. In addition, the event this year was filmed as a time-lapse by media artist Alyssa Glantz in order to help capture the moment and expand the cause.
“The message of STAND is two-fold in the sense that, on one side, I want it to be more of an awareness initiative and on the other side, it is really more of an honorarium,” Nicoli said.
Many victims of domestic violence have had their cries for help ignored, especially by authorities. Unfortunately, many have died under the hands of their abusers, or many of those who divorced their abusers were ostracized by society.
Society has to do better in regards to domestic violence and that starts by bringing attention to the issue. The metaphor of the dancers slowly rising from the ground to standing tall, like flowers poking through the snow and blooming after a long season of winter, is powerful. From here, more conversations may be held by whoever happened to walk by and witness. From here, victims of domestic violence will not be forgotten.