Content warning: this letter discusses domestic violence.
I would like to address some personal concerns about how the student body is reacting to the events that occurred on the night of May 1 as well as provide resources for the community.
The events that transpired were a result of many factors, however, many people seem to be ignoring the pre-existing relationship toxicity that marks this as domestic violence. This was likely a major contributor and should not be ignored. It is important to note that this situation is no one’s fault except for the abuser! Unfortunately, the College’s actions were not enough to stop this from happening. However, there is also little else that could have been done to prevent what happened. A no-contact order is only followed if the offender sees fit. Clearly, this offender did not, which is no one’s fault other than his. This is a widespread issue as there are few plausible methods — if any — to enforce any form of restraining order aside from the threat of further legal action. Since not all abusers are dissuaded by legal penalties, abused individuals are often unable to maintain space between themselves and their abusers.
The factors that contribute to an abusive relationship are both vast and complex. As a result it may be difficult for people, inside and outside of the relationship, to fully understand them. Anyone that has not been through domestic violence needs to understand that the abused party can rarely “just leave” the situation, and often struggle to realize they don’t deserve the unfair treatment they are receiving.
Responses to the violent events of May 1 have shown a lack of regard, understanding, and respect from many St. Olaf students regarding domestic abuse and those involved. As someone with personal experiences in this area, I find it highly upsetting that so many people have brushed the overwhelming presence of this issue under the rug just to make the situation fit their personal arguments and narratives against the college and whoever else they please. The glaring ignorance of uninvolved parties that have, knowingly or not, spread false information and participated in a number of insensitive behaviors is appalling. And most importantly, it is disrespectful to those directly involved in the event, and those that have been struggling after seeing something that invokes their own traumatic experiences.
It is my hope that anyone that is unsure of what domestic abuse looks like or what to do when experiencing it will take the steps to educate themselves appropriately. Furthermore, if you are in a situation where you believe physical or mental abuse is present, please seek help. Even if you are unsure, it is important to find an ally (a friend, family member, school official, counselor, police, etc.) before approaching your partner or taking further action.
Below are some resources for anyone in need:
Adrieanna Summers is from Saucier, Miss.
Her major is philosophy.