Tombstone Project

FSU students walking through the north quad will see tombstones placed in the grass. A number of tombstones tell domestic violence stories of local Michigan residents.

Often when I would read the stories on the tombstones of domestic violence victims, I would tell myself “if only they had just left.”

It was not until I heard a personal story of domestic violence from someone close before I realized there was a larger question to ask: “What can we do as a community to give victims the ability to overcome their circumstances?”

We have to break the cycle of blame we place on victims and learn what we can do to be a positive resource. The situations that keep domestic violence survivors in life-threatening environments usually involve complex circumstances that cannot be solved by simply walking through a door. They are often mental, emotional, physical and financial obstacles that reach deeper than the physical bruises abusers may inflict. Therefore, we need a truer understanding of our role in making a difference.

The responsibility of the community does not end by raising awareness of social issues effecting society. The greater responsibility lies in what we do with our awareness that makes a true influence on the community. Big Rapids community services such as WISE have created an efficient resource for survivors of domestic violence and there are others who provide the same opportunity.

Though many of us don’t have the finances needed to build shelters, we may be able to provide counsel to those in need. The ability to give someone the emotional and mental resources they need to change their circumstances is a resource much more valuable than money and awareness.

As we walk through the quad and read the stories of domestic violence victims, the question we should all be asking ourselves is “What can I do to make a difference?”