Domestic violence is not something usually associated with college students; unfortunately, this is a harmful misperception. Recent studies draw some very disturbing conclusions, including the fact that college-aged women (between 16-24) have the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence, that 21% of college students report having experienced dating violence by a current partner and that 32% of college students report experiencing dating violence by a previous partner.
Dating violence, a form of domestic violence, is a pattern of coercive control that one person uses over someone with whom they are in an intimate relationship. The abusive person uses physical violence, sexual violence, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, intimidation, threats and/or money to control their partner.
Many people have difficulty recognizing that they are in an abusive relationship, and when they do recognize it, they have difficulty getting out of that relationship. Some red flags of an abusive relationship include the abuser isolating the abused person from friends and family, the abuser threatening to kill themselves if the abused person tries to break up, an explosive temper by the abuser, pressure on the abused person to use drugs or alcohol and the abuser demanding sex when the abused person does not want to have sex.
Friends and family of those in an abusive relationship often do not recognize the abuse, or do not know how to help. Some signs that a friend is in an abusive relationship include unexplained injuries, absence from classes, constantly checking in with their partner to let them know what they’re doing and talking about their partner being jealous or possessive.
Taking action and speaking up is difficult, but necessary, and everyone’s safety must be the highest priority. Confronting the abuser is usually not the safest option; instead, consider calling DePauw Police, contacting the Women’s Center, or talking with a trusted administrator, staff member, faculty member or friend for help.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and I encourage us to educate ourselves and our friends about domestic violence so that we can all recognize the signs of abuse and know how to respond appropriately.
Many resources are available online, and DePauw’s Women’s Center, Title IX office, and Counseling Services are wonderful sources of information and support.
By learning how to recognize abuse, and knowing how to appropriately and safely speak up, we can make our campus and our communities safe places and spaces for everyone. Let’s get to work.
Professor of Computer Science