University Relations and Marketing

Brent Roberts, MSU Billings Library, 657-1655
Dr. Sarah Keller, Department of Communications, 896-5824
Dan Carter, University Relations, 657-2269

October 14, 2008

MSU Billings professor discusses gender differences in domestic violence awareness in next library lecture

MSU BILLINGS NEWS SERVICES — In 2007, Yellowstone County law enforcement officials handled 646 reported cases of domestic violence. Officials estimate that even more don’t seek help and suffer in silence and at least eight people each year die from domestic violence.

10-07 sarah keller.jpgWhile significant efforts have been made to raise awareness about domestic violence and the resources available to victims, clear gender differences exist on how those efforts have been received, according to Dr. Sarah Keller, assistant professor of communications at Montana State University Billings. Those gender differences will be the focus of a presentation Keller will give next week as part of the MSU Billings Library Lecture Series.

“Domestic Violence Ads Gone Awry: Backlash Reaction Among Men” will be presented Thursday, Oct. 23 from 2-3:30 p.m. in the Liberal Arts Building Room 205 on the MSU Billings main campus, 1500 University Drive. The lecture is free and the public is encouraged to attend.

Keller has developed a service learning curriculum in the Department of Communication and Theatre that has been well received by students and the community. In partnership with Dr. A.J. Otjen in the College of Business, Keller and students have produced social marketing campaigns that have promoted HIV testing, increased outdoor physical activity and domestic violence prevention.  Each campaign has been supported by external grants and in-kind services from area broadcast and media professionals.  The “Open Your Eyes” domestic violence prevention campaign earned several statewide advertising awards.

The Oct. 23 lecture will focus on a study which examined similarities and differences with respect to how men and women responded to and processed information from the “Open Your Eyes” campaign. Keller says that while there is widespread community support for preventing violence in the home, “we found mixed responses of men and women to the portrayal of domestic violence in advertising.”

The study suggests that the relationship is complex, she said, and tailored messages may be needed to educate men and women about domestic violence separately.

“While women tended to increase their awareness of services, disagreement with common domestic violence-related myths, and belief in the response efficacy of services in response to the campaign, men moved in the opposite direction,” Keller said. “Hence, educators must be careful not to repeat gendered stereotyping in domestic violence advertisements in order to avoid exacerbating existing tensions around this issue.”

For more information about the MSU Billings Library Lecture Series, contact Brent Roberts, associate director of the library, at 657-1655.


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