Student participation at annual 'Amy's Walk' supports local domestic abuse programs

Saturday Oct. 5 marked the efforts of a multi-organization initiative embodied in Amy's Walk at Highland Park. Pride Alliance and Womyn's Action Coalition worked with Livingston County's domestic violence program Chances and Changes, and Curves of Geneseo to participate in the 5-kilometer fundraiser.

The walk commemorates Amy Sayle, a woman from West Sparta, N.Y. who was killed by her boyfriend in 2006, according to Karen Tremer, executive director of Chances and Changes.

Sayle's sister Jane Williams was already a longtime supporter of Chances and Changes when her sister was killed, Tremer said.

Williams' proximity to both the problem and the solution is ultimately what led to the creation of Amy's Walk as a way to raise awareness about how inescapable and often undetectable abuse can be.

“It's a crime that knows no class, race or gender,” Tremer said. “But no one ever wants to talk about it.”

According to WAC president senior Zoee Davidson, participating in events like Amy's Walk is vital to WAC's overall mission to “abolish any type of discrimination based on gender and or sexuality.”

“Violence against women in any form is unacceptable,” Davidson said. “So it was important for us to show our commitment to that cause.”

Because domestic violence is so often a factor in homelessness, Tremer said, Chances and Changes works to offer shelter services to people affected by abuse in the community.

“[Domestic violence] is a pattern of behavior that is ongoing and takes many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, financial and even judicial abuse,” Tremer said. “It's all about the cycle of power and control.”

Tremer said this abuse is sometimes hard to understand from an “outside” point of view, but the pervasiveness of the violence impacts everyone across the nation - either directly or indirectly.

In the future, Tremer said the organization aims to increase participation with student clubs, campus events and even Greek life.

In coordination with student interns and groups like Pride and WAC, Tremer said Chances and Changes hopes to help spread awareness about dating and domestic violence across the campus community.

“Since October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, [WAC] will be catering our upcoming meetings towards the issue,” Davidson said. “We'll also be tabling and passing out purple ribbons to heighten awareness about domestic violence itself.”