Category Archives: Relationships

Round Table Tuesday – 10/7

We had another great round table this  Tuesday, where we had Sexual Assault Services  (SAS) come and talk with us about the Red Flag Campaign, and the services that are provided throughout the college.

People had some great questions about consent, and raised some great points about how culturally there is a great impact on how we interact with one another sexually. There was a lot of focus on how “no” is not usually the stopping point, but the beginning of a negotiation, and how problematic that becomes, especially when people get worn down, and feel as though there is no other option.

All of these questions and topics were answered and further clarified by the wonderful people who came to visit from SAS. They did a great job of hosting our round table, and I know I walked away with more knowledge under my belt.

SAS  Information Table
SAS Information Table

One of the biggest things I took away from this round table, is how fortunate we all are to have the support network  created by SAS.  Most institutions do not go to the lengths that these folks do in order to ensure that people get the help they need.

So here are some of  things  these amazing people do:

  • Provide support whether you are in a situation yourself, or trying to be there for family or friends who are in abusive relationships, sexual assaults, stalking
  • Anonymous reporting
  • All services are confidential
  • Always on call ( cell #, so you can text as well)
  • College -Wide
  • They can meet off-campus
  • They will go to appointments, court, exams, etc.

They provide support when people need it the most, and are helping to ensure that survivors are aware of all of their options.  We are quite fortunate to have this level of involvement, and people who invest so much time to make sure that survivors get help, and know that they are not alone.

SAS is under the NOVA Cares services here at  NOVA.  Here is there email: and phone: 703-338-0834

Keep your calendars open for October 21 to join SAS for the  Clothesline Project

9/21 Round Table

This week we had a very powerful Round Table Discussion with Professor  Abebe Fekade, who talked about intimate partner violence.  Lately we have  heard a lot on this topic because it has been in the forefront of the news, but Professor Fekade wondered what can be done to implement a lasting change.  

During these highly publicized incidents there is often national commentary on the events that take place, and a frequent comment that is repeated, is “why did she not just leave?” or other comments that focus on what the victim could have done to avoid the situation, instead of addressing the larger issue of abuse, and how it is brushed aside in our society.

The past few weeks are a perfect example of how we as society are horrified by the actions of others, and basque in that horror for the days or week that it is in the news,  and go on with our lives until the next horror becomes the breaking news story.  There is a failure to sit down and question what is going on in our society, and why these things are happening, and what can be done to circumvent them.

Within the last few weeks we have had the video where Janay Palmer is punched by her fiance, the police officer who sexually assaulted 8 black women,   Hannah Graham the  missing UVA student, and just now, a news alert popped up that a man in Oklahoma beheaded a woman at work, and tried to kill another woman. Most of these stories will fade into news oblivion, but for these victims and their families that horror will stay with them.

It can be claimed that these incidents have nothing to do with one another, and that these separate acts of violence are committed by those that are deranged, and a not a reflection of a heavier burden that is weighing down on society. Our discussion, touched on how this burden is seen when there are cultural norms that suggest that abuse is something kept between partners (that is just how they are), or  that violence is a way of expressing love  and protection. This just normalizes this behavior, and places a large amount of responsibility on victims.  It is also trivializes genders, and places them into rigid roles, that provide an oversimplified explanation as to why violence occurs.

Our discussion did not end with all the answers as to what we can do to stop this, but we did talk about having a weekly discussion group that focuses on  intimate partner violence, a place where we discuss some of these issues, and maybe come up with a way to make some headway. One of the things we did all agree on was respect;  it may seem so simple, but it is often overlooked .  Respecting people as they are, and not placing rigid gender roles, or archetypal roles, could help us learn about others, as well as ourselves, and appreciate both the similarities and differences.


Week 2 of Summer Reading

Sula by Toni Morrison

As promised, here is another book to add to your summer reading, if you have never had a chance to sit down and read this great piece. Toni Morrison presents some memorable characters in this novel.  Morrison’s works are deeply layered, and one of the most fascinating layers is the examination of the relationships between women, whether it is a mother and her daughter, or two friends.   This is definitely a must read, and we would love to hear your thoughts on the novel.

Alternative Relationships 1: The Open Folks

I thought about talking about this, and then decided against it, but after seeing someone draw a heart with “Polyamory” inside of it on the bathroom stall; I decided it was my subject for today, maybe one of many.

Polyamorous, is very simply put : the state or practice of having more than one open romantic relationship at a time.

Webster says  so: Polyamory

The idea of multiple relationships usually falls into the realm of some Mormon joke about Sister Wives or some variation thereof, however there are people out there who do engage in multiple emotional relationships. In the article, “Polyamory: When Three Isn’t A Crowd” written by Emanuella Grinberg, she looks at both polyamory and specifically a triad between a married male and female, and their male partner.  Yes, that is right folks, this lady is involved with two men, which breaks the stereotype that there is a man with 10 or so wives.

CNN Article

This has been a big year for recognizing, especially in the legal realm that heterosexual monogamous relationships are not the only relationships that exist. There are homosexual couples, and bisexual couples,  and now coming to light are non-monogamous relationships.

Regardless of how people feel about this, the fact remains that people have these relationships, and it does seem like people are willing to be more open about them.  These folks from the article have done a lot in the Atlanta are in terms of promoting awareness and education for people practicing poly.

My personal motto as long as people are adults and consenting of their own free will, then they are adults, and can make those decisions. I know poly makes people uncomfortable, since the comments section of the article devolved into a debate about the moral implications of relationships for the future.  I think that misses the whole, “poly is not for everyone” or “poly is a lot of work”  that was reiterated again and again in the article. I don’t know them personally, but  it did seem as though they were merely trying to bring awareness to the fact that there are people out their who love differently, and it is just that, love.  More importantly, I think they were trying to say that they too are people and have feelings and don’t want to be ostracized for living what is generally a mundane life, outside of their multiple partners.

I guess I wanted to write this piece because one of the responses to the bathroom stall writing said, ” Eww”  and another said, ” No aids please.”  I found both to be bothersome, but the latter is reminiscent, and not really all that long ago, of how people assumed and still do that being gay will give you aids.  It would appear that those things that deviate  from the dominant heterosexual paradigm, are diseased and malformed.

If half of what the article states is true, it seems as though these folks put in a lot of effort to communicate and be open about what they are feeling, and going through, and letting each other know what is or isn’t working. I don’t know about you guys, but that sounds like “normal” relationship stuff, or at the very least,  stuff you should be doing, whether you have 1 or 5 partners.

Would love to know your thoughts!