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Black eye experiment raises awareness for domestic violence

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 8:39 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 20, 2021 at 10:24 PM CDT
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CARBONDALE, Ill. (KFVS) - The Women’s Center in Carbondale has a new way to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Elizabeth Heniff, a domestic violence legal advocate at the Women’s Center, explains domestic violence is more common than we think.

“About one in four women and one in seven men will experience physical violence by their intimate partner in their lifetime,” said Elizabeth Heniff.

In hopes to raise awareness, Heniff and a few of her coworkers at the center took part in an experiment to see how many people would stop to ask them if they were okay after seeing their fake black eyes.

It’s call the ‘The Black Eye Makeover.’

The experiment is used to spark a conversation about the ongoing domestic violence issue.

Heniff said she went into six different stores during the experiment with a fake black eye.

“I was purposefully going down crowded aisles and standing near people and kind of turning to where they could get a look at it, and I saw several people make eye contact with me and just look down,” said Heniff.

She said more than 30 people made eye contact with her and only two asked about her black eye.

Those results didn’t surprise her.

“A lot of people still think that it’s not their business, or that it’s something that should stay in the home and so there’s a lot of reasons why people don’t talk about it,” said Heniff.

What did surprise her was a conversation with someone who approached her.

“He actually disclosed to me he has been the abuser before,” said Heniff. “He realized the harm and damage that he caused and the effects of his actions and now he said that every time he hears about domestic violence, he just gets so angry and realizes that ‘that’s coward behavior,’ is what he said.”

Heniff believes conversations like that can go a long way and she wants to do the experiment more often.

“If you can have at least even one person in each encounter, I think that can just make a huge difference in our community,” said Heniff.

According to The Women’s Center, 7,000 Illinois women ages 18 to 25, have been victims of beating or sexual assault and have filed a police report in the last year.

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence said on a typical day, domestic violence hotlines receive more than 20,000 phone calls.

If you or someone you know needs to reach out for help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, by texting “START” to 88788 or online here.

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