June 11, 2007

Fulbright winner creates new solutions for domestic violence

(Portland, Ore.)—Robin Young BA ’07 is working on a new approach to the problem of domestic violence.

(Portland, Ore.)—Robin Young BA ’07 is working on a new approach to the problem of domestic violence. With the help of a Fulbright grant, Young will spend her first year out of college in the Dominican Republic, where she will develop new ways for mothers to communicate with their daughters in order to help women stop the cycle of domestic abuse.

“Mothers have the capacity to positively impact the formation and decision-making capabilities of their daughters,” said Young. “Given the proper tools, female survivors of domestic violence can potentially take an empowered and central role in preventing violence in their daughters’ lives.”

Young, who graduated with a double major in sociology/anthropology and Hispanic studies, will leave for the Dominican Republic in August. Her project will include the level of academic rigor associated with Fulbright programs: she will spend ten months interviewing female survivors of domestic violence, attending lectures at the Technological Institute of Santo Domingo, and participating in programs led by local domestic violence-related organizations.

In addition, her project will begin to construct a method that empowers women to stop domestic violence before it starts for their daughters.

“Traditional gender roles are generally strictly adhered to in the Dominican Republic,” explained Young. “Many women have been taught by society to expect a certain amount of violence within their homes. Mothers have the ability to break these cultural norms because women teach their daughters what to expect and tolerate in a romantic relationship. With each new generation women have the opportunity to promote change and to prevent violence.”

Young came to know the Dominican Republic during a study abroad program there, in which she had the opportunity to volunteer with a local nonprofit organization. Her passion for empowering women to stop domestic violence came from experiences volunteering at El Programa Hispano, an Oregon-based charity that created the first Spanish-language domestic violence crisis line.

“I worked on the crisis line and also facilitated a support group for survivors of domestic abuse,” Young recounted. “The women in that group expressed time after time their fear that their daughters would be abused as they had been. They also discussed the difficulty they had in talking about abuse with their children. I hope to empower women by developing culturally specific models to help them discuss these issues.”

After wrapping up her work in the Dominican Republic, Young hopes to return to the United States, work for a domestic violence prevention organization, and apply what she has learned and developed through her project.

She explained, “Taking part in the programs that are developing in the Dominican Republic will provide a unique opportunity to develop more effective and culturally appropriate programs for all women in the United States and abroad.”