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Updated 7:00 AM November 16, 2009

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Task force unveils domestic and sexual violence awareness campaign

The U-M Initiative on Domestic and Sexual Violence has created Abuse Hurts: Recognize, Respond, Refer — a campaign to raise awareness of the effects of domestic violence.

As the first phase of this initiative, the campaign has launched a Web site,, to provide information for anyone interested in learning more about domestic violence.

The site contains resources for people who experience abuse in their relationships; managers, supervisors and co-workers who need or wish to help; and those who abuse their partners or others. It is designed to help visitors recognize domestic violence; respond to colleagues, co-workers and students who may be in abusive relationships; and refer them to people who can help.

"Domestic violence inflicts emotional and physical pain on members of our university community," says Laurita Thomas, associate vice president for human resources. "Sometimes it threatens or even ends their lives. Abuse can spill over into the workplace, affecting safety, productivity, and mental and physical health. Domestic violence is an important issue for the University of Michigan and our community, and the university is committed to providing information, resources and confidential assistance for needs related to domestic violence."

The 2007 Michigan State Police Crime Report revealed more than 101,000 domestic-violence victims and at least 98,000 domestic-violence offenders in Michigan. Washtenaw County accounted for 2,260 of those victims and nearly 2,200 offenders. In the same year, the Washtenaw County domestic violence agency, SafeHouse Center, responded to 2,259 crisis calls related to domestic violence and sexual assault and typically serves 5,000 individuals per year.

An outgrowth of a cross-university task force on domestic violence, the initiative has four initial goals:

• Educate the university community about the signs, dynamics and consequences of domestic violence and equip community members to recognize, respond and refer.

• Provide support to employees experiencing domestic violence.

• Guide management on addressing the occurrence of domestic violence and its effects in the workplace.

• Create a safer work environment.

The initiative has created procedural guidelines addressing domestic violence in support of the Policy on Violence in the University Community, and is launching an educational campaign including a Web site, printed materials, and a training program for human resource practitioners, managers and supervisors.

The initiative is sponsored by Thomas; Dr. Lori Pierce, associate provost for academic and faculty affairs; Dr. Timothy Johnson, chair of obstetrics and gynecology; and Gloria Thomas, director, Center for the Education of Women, with the support of an executive committee of other U-M senior leaders.

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