Purple Hibiscus: A Coming of Age Story


By Torshawna Griffin

On March 11, 2015, Women’s Center, the UMKC Library, Multicultural Student Affairs, and the Black Studies Program teamed up to give a wonderful book discussion called “Flowers and Girls that Bloom: A Feminist Coming of Age Story in Nigeria”. The discussion was based on Chimanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus, the first book that she published.

The story is narrated in third person, and tells the life of Kambili and her younger brother Jaja. It discusses the battles that they face with domestic violence being ever present in their home. They have an extremely religious father that uses bible verse and catholic teachings to justify the pain and torment that they endure while living up under his roof. The violence doesn’t just stop there either, Kambilia and Jaja’s mother is also abused by her husband. His violence causes her to have two miscarriages.

The only taste of being normal and happiness that Kambili and Jaja receive us when they visit their Aunty Ifeoma. They begin to see a different family dynamic that they have never experienced before. And it makes them question the “love” that they receive from their father. I think this book is a wonderful coming of age story.

The book discussion was a well-attended event where students and staff were represented diversely. Everyone was able to take part in an open discussion about the high and lows about the story and how they felt after reading it. It made for a wonderful afternoon. I recommend reading this book and the others that Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche has published.

Why Does She Stay?

Image source through Google Images via Creative Commons

Image source through Google Images via Creative Commons

By Kemora Williams

“Why does she stay?” is a question that Leslie Morgan Steiner answered in her Ted Talk. The Ted Talk is titled “Crazy Love” after the book she wrote telling her dark story of how she was madly in love with a man who routinely abused her and threatened to kill her. In the book, she also corrects the misconceptions about domestic violence and explains the way in which she thinks that everyone can help break the silence around domestic violence.

Leslie Steiner identifies the stages and signs that she missed when just dating her husband before the physical abuse began. At the beginning, she said there was not a hint of control, anger, or violence. However, she did not know that the stages in any domestic violence relationship was to charm and seduce the victim, isolate the victim and then threaten the victim. She describes how her husband went about she stages and explained why she missed these important signs.

When domestic violence comes up, many ask “Why does she stay?” Leslie Steiner answered, “I did not know he was abusing me. I never thought of myself as a battered wife. Instead I was a very strong woman in love with a deeply troubled man and I was the only person on Earth who could help Conner face his demons.” Like many other women, Leslie did not leave because she did not know she was being abused but more importantly because she knows how difficult and dangerous it is to leave an abuser. To hear more about Leslie Morgan Steiner’s story, please listen to this Ted Talk. It’s valuable and worth your time.

Vagina Monologues to be Staged at UMKC!

2015-VDAY-posterBy Kacie Otto and Kemora Williams

Name of Event: The Vagina Monologues

Date and Time: February 10, 2015 at 7pm

Location: UMKC Student Union Theater, 5100 Cherry Street

Admission charge: $10 for students, $20 for non-students in advance and $15 for students, $25 for non-students at the door.

Parking information: Parking will be available on the fifth floor of the Cherry St. Parking Garage

Coming up on February 10, 2015 at 7:00 p.m., the Women’s Center is sponsoring a benefit performance of The Vagina Monologues. Funds raised from the event will support the UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Project and VDay’s 2015 spotlight campaign, One Billion Rising. The Vagina Monologues will be held at the UMKC Student Union Theater, 5100 Cherry Street. However tickets are required for this event, which you can purchase online at or by calling 816-235-6222. Tickets are also available at the door.

For more information, visit our VDay website. The Vagina Monologues is sure to be an empowering performance and we hope to see you there! What better way to support both the campus and community!

The Strength of “Her”

By Ayo Aruwajoye

UMKC's Violence Prevention and Response Project promotes violence prevention in the UMKC community.

UMKC’s Violence Prevention and Response Project promotes violence prevention in the UMKC community.

Working at the Woman’s Center, I can truly say I have grown. One of the big lessons that I learned is that us as women are very strong. I wrote this poem around the time of Sexual Assault Awareness month last year. Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. This poem describes a woman that has been through so much in life in general, but to be specific, in her relationship, and she still remains strong optimistic. This is the kind of woman that I want to be when I grow up. I have heard stories from friends, family, and strangers about different things they go through, like domestic violence, sexual harassment, relationship dominancy, and stereotyping. We hear so many stories about the bad things that woman go through like unfair payment issues, teen pregnancy, but we never take the time to reward these woman for moving forward, for standing up for what they believe in or even for remaining STRONG through all the turmoil and tribulations. Every woman should realize how strong she is and praise themselves for being such strong woman. Neither a man, nor the government has a say in what a woman’s worth is. I commend all the survivors of any sort or discrimination, embarrassments, or sexual assault because that’s the example we should set for other woman and young teenage girls that you are to be treated fairly, equally and with respect, Stand up for what’s right and stay strong, because better days will come.


The Strength of “Her”

It’s the strength of her that shows why her presence is demanding like the rush of cold wind on a snowy day.
It’s the strength of her, that’s why her smile refuses to fade away
What is it about a woman, the way we hurt but solemnly stay?
Wishing that tomorrow could be so much of a better day!
Is it the way her Hips sway that tells the Pain she’s on her way?
Because it seems like instead of walking away, she’s running at a faster pace
The yearn to be loved, but the confusion above, mind all over the place, so hard to crack this Love case
The strength of her is overwhelming, overbearing and overrated
Who designed us to be this strong, to go through all the emotions of a love song?
It’s the strength of her that lets you think I’m okay
She nods her head up and down, like accepting a check on pay day
In my mind…. No in HER mind, she’s screaming for just one escape
One superhero with a red, long cape
I know he sees her tears, the ones that fall from fear
I know he feels her, she knows too
They sit there with nothing to say, nothing to do
The only similarity is their strengths showcase
He’s is the physical aspect
But her emotional aspect has lifted the weights
Showed its face, fought the same old race, and still had time to reminisce on the day
It’s the strength of her that lets her ignore foolish ways
Yes, she’s aware of your continuous lacking words every day
It’s the strength of her that she can say…
That the strength of her makes her Okay
It’s the strength of her that shows why her presence is demanding like the rush of cold wind on a snowy day.
It’s the strength of her, that’s why her smile refuses to fade away
What is it about a woman, the way we hurt but solemnly stay?
Wishing that tomorrow could be so much of a better day!

What Would You Do?


By Ayo Aruwajoye

What would you do if you were being abused?

What would you do if your friend or a family member was being abused behind closed doors?

What would you do if you saw a complete stranger being abused in a public place?

Let’s say someone was being harassed about their sexual preference because they were Gay or Lesbian, what exactly would you do?

Would you turn and act like you don’t notice because “it’s none of your business”? Would you attempt to help but then back off when you get scared too, or would you do everything in your power to help that person?!

People are put in scenarios everyday where they have the chance to change and possible save someone’s life by helping them and sticking up for them but they choose not to!

I watched videos from a show called, What would you do, and I was shocked by how many people were witnesses to someone being harassed, sexually, physically and emotionally abused and did nothing. Many people turned their heads and acted like they saw nothing. Later on when some of them were questioned about why they didn’t do anything they replied,” I didn’t know what to do!”

Imagine later that night after that you witnessed someone being aggressively abused and did nothing you’re watching the 10:00PM news and you see the woman that was being abused is now pronounced dead because she was shot by her abusive boyfriend. How would you feel then?

Even though the scene I just painted is extreme, it happens every day and every day we have an opportunity to make a change in someone’s life!

Start standing up for people when you see their in danger or need help the statistics for people being abused and hurt is too high for people to witness this and not do anything. Every time you stand up for someone you have a chance to SAVE THEM, you’re making a statement that what’s going on right now is NOT RIGHT and it has to be STOPPED.  You’re refusing to be put in the category of people that “DID NOTHING” and you’re willing to RESCUE someone that needs to be rescued!

Watch some on the video’s I found on YouTube  about things that happen every day to people where they need someone to stand up for them and then ask yourself, “WHAT WOULD I DO?”

Mattie Rhodes to Promote Violence Prevention in the Latino Community


By Maritza Gordillo

Mattie Rhodes has been serving the Kansas City community for more than 115 years. Their vision is to create a “vibrant community where individuals and families are healthy, safe and have the resources to thrive” (from the Mattie Rhodes official website).  In a few weeks they will be sponsoring a presentation called United for Equality, Ending Violence, featuring Dr. Julia Perilla as the keynote speaker. I was so happy to see that this center is aware of the need for domestic violence prevention and awareness in our community, and in particular, the Latino community.

Join them on November 20, 2013 from 1p.m.-5p.m. for a presentation that will enhance your knowledge of domestic violence in the Latino community. RSVP required with a $15 registration fee. Please click here to view the invitation.


Continuing to Promote Awareness Even After Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By Maritza Gordillo

The Clothesline Project that took place on October 1 on the Quad.

The Clothesline Project that took place on October 1 on the Quad.

October was Domestic Violence Awareness Month and now that we are entering into November, I would like to give thanks to all of those who participated in our events and stood up against domestic violence! I would also like to thank all of those organizations on our campus and in the community that help promote awareness every day. Something I believe is important is prevention, and even though October was the month to promote awareness, this is an issue that should be promoted year- round. According to domesticviolencestatistics.org, 3 or more women are murdered every day in the U.S by their spouse or intimate partner. This is a terrifying statistic and it proves that we should keep working on preventing these incidents in our country and, of course, all

Our I CAN, WE CAN Day of Action featuring Shrink Art!

Our I CAN, WE CAN Day of Action featuring Shrink Art!

over the world. Working with the Violence Prevention & Response Project has only made me realize that wanting to become a social worker and work with domestic violence victims will be of great satisfaction because I will be changing the world one life, one child, and one family at a time.

For more information on other Violence Prevention and Response Project and Women’s Center events, please visit our website, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

Who Wants to Stand with Us Against Violence? Can We See a Show of Hands?

IMG_7043Come lend us a hand in our efforts to sand against violence!

Next Wednesday (October 23), between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., participate in the I CAN, WE CAN Day of Action at UMKC, featuring These Hands Don’t Hurt and the White Ribbon Campaign, to take a stand against violence. Stop by our table in the Atterbury Student Success Center (right outside the cafeteria) to create an “I CAN prevent violence by…” statement and design a shrink-art hand which showcases your statement. The Women’s Center staff will take your designed hands back to the Women’s Center to shrink them, and then hang them around campus to spread the word about ending violence!

Co-sponsored by the Violence Prevention and Response Project.

For more information on this and other Violence Prevention and Response Project and Women’s Center events, please visit our website, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

Raising Awareness about Domestic Violence

IMG_7043By Maritza Gordillo

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month! Throughout the month of October, the Women’s Center and the Violence Prevention and & Response Project will be having events that promote the prevention of domestic violence.

One of the events will be These Hands Don’t Hurt and the White Ribbon Campaign interactive tabling at the Atterbury Student Success Center on October 23, from 11am-1pm. This event is UMKC’s “I CAN, WE CAN” Day of Action, and we will have a Shrink Art activity where students, faculty, and staff can create a Shrink Art hand to pledge what they CAN do to help end domestic violence.

A participant in last year's "I'm Anti-Violence..." Photo Campaign.

A participant in last year’s “I’m Anti-Violence…” Photo Campaign.

Another event going on this month will be the “I’m Anti-Violence…” photo campaign during LGBTQ History Month. It will run from October 28 through November 1, and will take place at various locations on campus.  The information table will be at the Miller Nichol’s Library on October 28, 2013 from 12pm-2pm. This photo campaign aims to raise awareness about violence against the LGBTQ community by have students, faculty, and staff take their photo with a declaration of anti-violence and a statement of what they are pro.

For more information on these events and other Violence Prevention and Response Project and Women’s Center events, please visit our website, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.