College Students Are at Risk for Relationship Abuse: Protect Yourself

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and whether you know it or not, students like you are at risk.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Youth Violence & Suicide Prevention organization, the highest rate of intimate partner violence is among women ages 16-24, and 32% of college students are victims of relationship violence. Now is the perfect time to increase your education about abuse and to evaluate the safety of your personal relationships.

The leading anti-relationship abuse organization at Marist College, Heart1, is a student-run club founded in 2010 by a Marist student who had suffered an abusive relationship herself. Though the club could not be reached for comment by the time of publication, the group’s online resource center provides Marist students with information on identifying multiple types of abuse, as well as providing contact information where students can find help. The site reminds students that a major issue surrounding relationship abuse is the question of abuse that is not physical. “A relationship can be unhealthy or abusive even without physical violence,” says Heart1, “Verbal abuse may not cause physical damage, but it does cause emotional pain and scarring. It can also lead to physical violence if the relationship continues on the unhealthy path its on.”

Young people should remain mindful that an abusive relationship can fall outside of the lines of physical abuse. In fact, there are several forms that abuse can take beyond physical abuse. Emotional and verbal abuse are any non-physical behaviors which cause a person to feel unsafe or hinder them in any way. These include, but are not limited to, threats, insults, humiliation, isolation and intimidation. Sexual abuse goes further than rape and coercion, limiting another person’s access to birth control is a common and serious form of sexual abuse. Finally, digital abuse is any use of technology or social media to harm a significant other. Digital abuse includes demanding access and passwords to your personal accounts. Any of these acts of relationship abuse is a serious and critical issue.

Marist College Health Services has declined to comment on this issue, citing their policy to not participate in student assignments. However, any student seeking aid should call either the Marist College Health Services Center or Counseling Center, contact information for which can be found under resources below.

Know what to look out for.

Know what to look out for.

Another important issue to keep in mind is that abuse can be present even when there is no prior relationship. Stalking is one form of abuse that is particularly prevalent on college campuses. According to the Feminist Majority Foundation’s Choices Campus Campaign, “more than half of all stalking victims are between 18-29 years old, and 13% of college women have been stalked.” That is, roughly one-in-10 women on every college campus. Unfortunately, prior to escalation, stalking is a crime that is rarely taken as seriously as it should be by young people. Yet statistics show that 76% of women killed by an intimate partner had been stalked by the person who killed them, according to the US Department of Justice. These numbers demand that stalking abuse be taken seriously, and the best way to defend yourself is to be armed with the knowledge of your personal rights. There are three major US laws protecting you:

These laws protect you from relationship abuse.

These laws protect you from relationship abuse.

Anyone who feels that they may have experienced abuse should get help immediately. Go to your college Health Services, Counseling Services, or call the National Dating Abuse Helpline, which is open 24/7, to speak to someone who can talk you through your next steps. Resources can be found below.

Resources for you:

National Dating Abuse Helpline

Marist College Counseling Services

Marist College Health Services
Student Center Building Room 352

Marist Heart1 Resource Center

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