Photo courtesy of Monique Mallory.
Last month, for the first time, Drexel University’s Office of Equality & Diversity (OED) honored the national Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) with a purple-wearing contest. Why purple? The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence promotes DVAM with a purple ribbon to symbolize and honor courage, survival and dedication to ending domestic violence.
The winner of the OED contest went above and beyond in wearing purple every day — even on the weekends and at home. And yes, it helped that purple was already her favorite color.
Monique Mallory, assistant director of operations and data analytics in OED, wore at least one item of purple for each of the 31 days in the month of October — which is even more impressive considering items couldn’t be worn twice.
Mallory was inspired to support DVAM because of her own experiences with intimate partner violence in the past. She had been in a relationship with a man who was mentally, emotionally and sometimes physically abusive.
“After working here and hearing the stories of so many people that suffer with domestic abuse, I decided to start speaking up about my experiences,” she said. “I told my coworkers and my supervisor and every so often I make posts on social media about standing up and getting out. I don’t want anyone to feel like I did, like there is no way out of situations like that.”
Throughout the month, OED held DVAM events during and after work and tried to raise awareness about the month. But it can be difficult to increase engagement because the month coincides with the beginning of the academic year, according to OED’s Associate Director of Education and Prevention Jesse Krohn.
“As an alternative, we spent a lot of time thinking about awareness-raising and passive education,” said Krohn. “Teal Tuesdays, in which we encourage Dragons to wear teal T-shirts and ribbons, are an enduringly popular Sexual Assault Awareness Month tradition at Drexel in April, so we thought — why not try to harness some of that enthusiasm in the fall as well?”
To make it easy for people to participate and show their commitment to anti-violence, Krohn and her team passed out hundreds of purple ribbons and held a campaign called #PutTheNailInIt, which encourages people to paint one fingernail bright purple (participants included Nina Henderson Provost and Executive Vice President M. Brian Blake, PhD, and Senior Vice President Enrollment Management & Student Success Randall Deike, PhD).
“The idea is that when someone asks you why your nail is that color, it creates an opportunity to talk about intimate partner violence,” said Krohn. “We also passed out sheets with some facts that folks could share to get those conversations started.”
Mallory, who is also a graduate student in the College of Computing & Informatics’ information systems master’s program, painted her fingernails and toenails purple for the whole month of October, in addition to wearing a new purple item every day. To keep track of her sartorial journey and raise awareness online, she posted pictures of her outfits on her personal Instagram account, always using “#wearpurplefordomesticviolenceawareness” in the caption.
“This was the first time that I wore purple almost every day,” she explained. “I had some purple things already because it is my favorite color. However, I did go out and buy two purple dresses, a purple sweater, a pair of purple leggings and my Halloween costume, which was Jared Leto’s Joker character from the ‘Suicide Squad’ movie.”
Though her coworkers also participated in the challenge, no one was able to compete with her.
“I think everyone was just shocked that I had so much purple,” she said. “I guess I’m just really competitive!”
By the end of the month, her devotion both to wearing purple and supporting DVAM was recognized by the office.
“Some of our favorite photo submissions were from departments that came together to participate as a group. But, no one could hold a candle to Monique,” said Krohn. “While it’s true that Monique works with us in OED, that’s not what gave her a leg up — she wore purple literally every single day at work for the entire month. It makes sense that Monique would demonstrate such an intense commitment to ending interpersonal violence — she is one of the most compassionate and caring people I have the good fortune to know. Violence is antithetical to everything she is and believes in.”
Originally, Mallory told her friends and family that it was time to give purple a rest, since DVAM was over and it was now November.
She lasted two weeks before she started wearing purple again.