Last night a group of roughly 50 activists marched down Pardall Road with candles in hand, silently lending their support to survivors of domestic abuse.

The vigil, facilitated by the Santa Barbara community organization Domestic Violence Solutions, was one of the first events of Domestic Violence Awareness Week, which began Monday. The week, hosted by the UCSB Women’s Center in collaboration with Sigma Alpha Zeta sorority, is part of a month-long “kNOw MORE” campaign to advocate domestic violence prevention and awareness.

[media-credit id=20182 align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]According to Domestic Violence Solutions facilitator Lisa Gonzales, Tuesday’s vigil encouraged victims to speak out about domestic abuse.

“We’re focusing on the denial that goes along with domestic abuse,” Gonzales said. “We want people to have a support group that, when something happens, will tell you, ‘that’s not okay.’”

Second-year Wendy Rivas, a math and political science major, said she attends the week’s events in order to encourage openness about domestic abuse, an issue our society often shies away from.

“The little cases that people don’t acknowledge should be acknowledged,” Rivas said.

The week’s events began on Monday with a showing of Eminem and Rihanna’s “Love the Way You Lie” video, which tells the story of life in an abusive relationship.

According to fourth-year Alyssa Avila, a feminist studies major and intern at the Women’s Center, the video exemplifies the abusive undertones that can be found in much of today’s pop culture.

“We examined and analyzed the video, song and its lyrics,” Avila said. “We want people to see the relationships portrayed in this video. In my opinion, they are negative and abusive, especially considering that it’s done by a known abuser and known survivor.”

Sigma Alpha Zeta’s Community Service Chair Amaris Porpillo, a second-year sociology major, said that this year’s theme — college relationships — is something all students can relate to.

“This year’s focus is more on college relationships than previous years,” Porpillo said. “What is a healthy or unhealthy relationship? It links how abuse happens in a college community through alcohol or drug abuse, and also how easily it can [turn into] sexual assault.”

On Wednesday, the events continue with a screening of the movie “Precious” in the MultiCultural Center’s theater at 6 p.m., followed by a facilitated discussion of the film in relation to domestic violence and sexual abuse.

Loree Lewis, a first-year undeclared major, said she looks forward to examining social issues the movie illustrates.

“This story makes you want to talk about what it shows you, so it will be interesting to get other people’s opinions of the many issues seen in the movie,” Lewis said.

The week’s events will come to a close with “101 on Domestic Violence and Rape Prevention,” a presentation by the Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday in room 1701 of the Theater and Dance building.

The Santa Barbara Rape Crisis Center, Domestic Violence Solutions and UCSB Women’s Center‘s Rape Prevention Education Program offer free aid for domestic violence victims, including legal advice and transitional housing. Contact information for these organizations can be found in the UCSB Women’s Center, located in the SRB.