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As November marks East Carolina University’s annual return of Pledge Purple Week, which represents a larger scale initiative that brings attention to sexual violence, harassment and bullying, it is important to remember that belittling someone’s experiences do not help a situation.

Someone’s situation whether it be a family or friendly relationship or with a significant other, cannot be generalized as merely “healthy” or “unhealthy” -- the world cannot be seen as just “black or white” so to say; there are always going to be gray areas.

As ECU brings attention each year to spreading awareness for sexual violence, harassment and bully, I think students should really take more time to become involved in truly understanding what it means to “Pledge Purple.”

Purple awareness ribbons bring attention to a variety of diseases and disorders, but the color additionally represents domestic violence, eating disorders, amongst other things. Pledge Purple week has been successful in years past of bringing advocacy for these topics to campus.

ECU is home to roughly 30,000 students, many of whom are in relationships, have had traumatic pasts, have taken up counseling or some who have been told their experiences aren’t really classifiable as abuse, harassment or bullying.

“That’s just how things are, you’re in college,” is something I’m sure more than your fair share of college students have been told at some point during their four years.

It’s not remotely okay to belittle someone’s experiences because you cannot understand them for yourself or you haven’t been in the same situation, which is a message I’m hoping students take away as they learn more about sexual violence, harassment and bullying this week.

The issue of sexual and domestic violence, harassment and bullying is a very serious issue that runs rampant on college campuses today, that’s no secret. But as students are coming to college hoping to find themselves or discover their passions in life, I am hoping the men and women are additionally taking a minute to think about protecting themselves from being put in situations which are toxic.

And sometimes, even if people don’t wish to acknowledge it, they are the toxic ones. They are the ones expanding the tally on domestic or sexually violent situations. For this reason exactly, ECU is doing right to educate its students on the very real issues of sexual violence, harassment and bullying.

Education on the subject allows for students to prevent themselves from becoming the abuser and it can also help students recognize what the red flags are when it comes to any sort of relationship they may have, whether it be platonic or romantic involvement.

On the topic of experiences, everyone has a past, some that a lot of people are not comfortable with sharing. Do not pressure your peers or significant others into sharing more than they wish to put out in the open; by doing that you are becoming the toxic being.

The depth of a sexually or domestically violent situation is very real to people. The survivors know this more than anyone, and I cannot speak on their behalf, however, I can say that they are some of the strongest people I have ever seen as they learn to cope with or move on from what they experienced.

Students should take the time to read into what the Pledge Purple initiative is aiming to raise awareness for, and I believe everyone can benefit from becoming a little more educated on the topics of sexual or domestic violence, harassment and bullying.

No one in this world can make you as happy as you can make yourself, is something my mother always said to me. Living by these words has kept me from lingering in situations that are not right for my mind, body or soul.

Moving past situations to focus on making yourself be the happiest you can be is a pivotal learning experience.

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