Relationship violence is a serious matter that a lot of people view as an isolated situation until it happens to a friend or themselves. Informing the masses on signs and ways to combat this issue is important due to its prevalence. By showing it in the form of visual media, relationship violence can be portrayed accurately. In a Wednesday on-campus screening and discussion called Escalation, Devon Sakamoto and counselor Elizabeth Mondragon, among other representatives from the Well, UCR Counseling Center, the Women’s Resource Center and other agencies on campus, used their expertise and credentials to guide the discussion about relationship violence.
The event started off with Sakamoto and Mondragon introducing the video “Escalation.” “Escalation” was created by the family of a victim of relationship violence, featuring a Paige and chronicling her relationship with her boyfriend, Chase. Though the relationship started off well, Chase becomes abusive and the film eventually ends in Paige’s tragic death. Due to my previous experience with educational films, I braced myself for wooden dialogue and abysmal character development. Luckily, my fears were quelled within the first six minutes of the movie.
The actors all did a good job at playing their roles and you could see chemistry through the way they interacted in serious moments, such as Paige’s death due to abuse. They excelled at giving visceral reactions that truly made us believe in the conflict.
The most notable thing, however, was the excellent way they tackled the issue in a organic way by introducing a number of concepts, such as warning signs, diffusion of responsibility and projection. Warning signs can include subtle gestures and idiosyncrasies that occur in a domestic abuse relationship that should send a signal indicating conflict. Examples include someone being mentally drained after being with their partner or forceful interactions. Diffusion of responsibility is the act of resisting action because you feel as though someone else is going to solve a situation. While lastly, projection happens to victims who become so disillusioned that they begin to blame the entire ordeal on themselves.
The family who backed the film’s production began traveling to colleges across the nation and showing students this video to bring light to relationship violence. We watched the video and appraised its poignancy, pointing out powerful moments created by effective imagery and various actions among the actors. Afterward we answered discussion questions the representatives asked to test how memorable and effective the film was. By answering the discussion questions, we directly helped the coordinators set up future presentations.
During the discussion we went through a number of topics and came to the consensus that relationship violence is a delicate subject but that victims have ways to seek help confidentially. We also noted that it was important to not dehumanize suspects despite any wrongdoings because they genuinely may not see an error in their ways. Sakamoto and Mondragon closed the discussion by introducing organizations on campus that specialize in dealing with these situations.