The Domestic Abuse Prevention Student Organization (DAPSO) is hosting an event called Dance the Night Away at Coburn Place on March 21 from 6-7 p.m.
DAPSO was founded at IUPUI by Andrea Jacobson in September 2019. Jacobson is currently a senior majoring in biomedical engineering. Jacobson founded the organization in an attempt to support survivors of domestic violence through volunteering events and advocacy.
Jacobson expressed that as COVID-19 hit just a few months after she began DAPSO, the organization had just begun to find funding opportunities for events that they were not able to host due to the pandemic. These events would have been hosted with DAPSO’s community partners.
“On-campus events were something I thought were going to be beyond my capabilities when COVID was hitting and they were initially weird about how you could reserve rooms,” Jacobson said. “So I didn't think that was going to be as easy of a possibility as it probably is now and probably will continue to be in the future. So I think there will be a lot more on-campus events so more students can be involved.”
Along with on-campus events, DAPSO partners with multiple organizations in the Indianapolis area, the main one being Coburn Place Safe Haven.
Coburn Place offers support to survivors of domestic violence, supporting them through the process of healing and rebuilding their lives. Through Coburn Place, survivors are given opportunities to find permanent housing and careers.
DAPSO has hosted a variety of events with Coburn Place, including a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) fair, Fall Fun Night, yoga night, and a book drive for Winter Literature Night. DAPSO’s most recent event on IUPUI’s campus was a blanket making event during Healthy Relationships Week, with the blankets being donated to Coburn Place.
“We thought the blanket making event would be a great way to directly help the community and give them resources that they needed and requested, while also sharing more about how students on campus can get involved,” said Elizabeth Terhorst, freshman in IUPUI’s School of Education and member of DAPSO. “It was really cool to see so many different parts of IUPUI, DAPSO, students, and cohorts working together.”
Terhorst is currently working with and learning from Jacobson, and will be taking on the role of president of DAPSO upon Jacobson’s graduation.
Terhorst stumbled upon a DAPSO table during a student involvement fair and was immediately interested in joining the organization. She expressed that the organization was something she would have wanted to be available in her previous schooling experiences, specifically due to the safety and support the organization provided.
“I think for all of those incoming freshmen like myself, college is the first time that you've really been away from home,” Terhorst said. “So maybe that's the first time you've ever been away from domestic abuse. It's all you know, and you don't really know what happened, but you know it didn't feel great. So you can learn what it was, you can keep it from happening to you or someone you care about in the future. You can find community, solidarity, resources and help.”
Jacobson explained that a sense of community was also her reason for starting DAPSO. Jacobson volunteered at a YWCA shelter, which formally changed their name in 2015, in high school and discovered a passion for working with the women and children at the shelter, expressing that her interactions with survivors of domestic abuse allowed her to process situations in her own life.
“It was really fulfilling to be able to understand what they were going through, but to be able to tell them that there is something better on the other side,” Jacobson said. “And it was fulfilling to help women get to moments of clarity. So that's why I started DAPSO, I wanted to continue making those connections with people, to find a way to use my not so great experiences to help guide people to a better life and not feel so alone.”
There are a variety of resources recommended by DAPSO that are available to survivors of domestic abuse, including: CAPS; IUPUI’s Sexual Assault Prevention, Intervention, and Response (SAPIR) task force; resources from the Division of Student Affairs; and Stop Sexual Violence IU.
Ashley Wilson is a sophomore double majoring in creative writing and journalism at IUPUI. She is a writer and photographer who covers campus and culture for The Campus Citizen.