November 6, 2018
Domestic violence is much more prevalent than we think. But Kat Andrews is bringing that to light, at Pitt and around the world.
“In other countries, the issue is so different — but it's also so similar,” she said. “Addressing it doesn’t have to be either community or international. It's all connected.”
When domestic violence hit campus, she refocused her ACT research fellowship project to evaluate Pitt’s awareness and of domestic violence. She uncovered a lot of misconceptions.
“People don't fully understand what domestic violence is, or how it plays out in reality,” she said. “They don’t know you can be in an abusive relationship without being physically hurt. Women can hurt men. It’s not just in heterosexual couples. But being able to identify that in your own life is harder than it seems.”
Just having the conversation seemed to spark a change.
“I saw how much they learned just from me asking them questions, and actually talking about for the first time,” Kat said. “Having a casual conversation about things like this goes a long way.”
As a Frederick Intern, Kat was placed at the U.S. State Department, where she got to produce a web series about gender-based violence that was broadcast throughout Latin America.
Embassies called to say they watched the series, then had a discussion their community leaders about the issue, and how they can work towards making a change. Kat’s boss also gave her a photo of people sitting around a radio, listening to the broadcast.
“Getting, as an intern, to feel like I'm making an impact in something that I'm really passionate about — it made me feel like there's so much more that I can do in the future.”
She’s heading to Uruguay soon as a Fulbright Scholar to continue her research on gender-based violence.
Uruguay recently passed a comprehensive bill to address domestic violence, but it only casually mentioned online abuse and technology.
“It’s such a great policy, but we should figure out how to put it in the 21st century context,” she said. "For better or for worse, technology is a part of our relationships.
“Being in the first generation that's really grown up with this technology, I think I'm in a perfect position to try and understand that better.”