When it comes to sexual violence, particularly domestic/dating violence, it is easy for students to dismiss the issues believing it an issue that does not affect them. Unfortunately, students are more at risk than many believe. According to domestic violence expert Dr. Sandra Stith, about 30 percent of college students have been in relationships involving physical aggression and even more have been in emotionally abusive relationships.
Beginning today, Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment (PAVE), a student organization on campus, will be recognizing Domestic Violence Awareness Month throughout the month of October. DVAM is a nationally recognized time of both observance and action. PAVE is taking a stand for the University of Wisconsin-Madison by creating awareness about domestic violence’s existence on campus.
Domestic/dating violence is an ongoing pattern of controlling and coercive behaviors by one person in a relationship. This may include physical, sexual and psychological attacks, as well as controlling finances, perpetrated by adults or adolescents against their former or current intimate partners.
Control and coercion distinguish appropriate disagreements and arguments from an abusive relationship. When the two individuals no longer have equal power in the relationship, it becomes abusive.
Domestic violence can affect any individual regardless of sex, gender, race or sexual orientation. Domestic violence is not a “women’s problem,” but rather a problem for entire communities, such as the UW-Madison campus.
Some students may think, “Domestic violence only happens to married couples, so this issue doesn’t really affect me at all since I’m not married and just a college student.”
Unfortunately, domestic/dating violence affects all types of relationships—marital or not. Domestic/dating violence is common even on college campuses like ours. In fact, 18 to24 year olds make up 11.7 percent of the general population, but accounted for the majority (42 percent) of violence by their boyfriend or girlfriend.
This means, contrary to people’s beliefs, even our fellow UW-Madison students could possibly be survivors of domestic violence or involved in an abusive relationship.
When it comes to domestic/dating violence, there is oftentimes no physical evidence. For victims, it might be easy to cover up any physical evidence such as bruises, but the effects of domestic/dating violence are nearly impossible to be erased.
In addition to physical violence, there are also behavioral warning signs of domestic/dating violence such as extreme jealousy, controlling who the partner can spend time with, ultimatums or threats.
If you believe you may be in an abusive relationship, it is not your fault. Remember that you are not alone. There is help for anyone in an abusive relationship and you can get out of it, even though it might seem impossible. The city of Madison community as well as the university offer plenty of outlets for assistance.
It is unfortunate that chances are even if you are not experiencing some of dating/domestic violence, someone you know is. There are ways for you to speak out against this issues and become an ally for domestic violence victims. Be an advocate.
The National Day of Unity, a day started by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) to connect advocates against domestic violence together. A day of awareness raising turned into an entire month, and that is how DVAM is now celebrated throughout the entire month of October.
If you believe you are in an abusive relationship, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-723 for assistance. Locally, you can call Madison’s Domestic Abuse Intervention Service’s hotline at 608-251-4445.
PAVE is a student organization dedicated to preventing sexual assault, dating/domestic violence and stalking on the UW-Madison campus through education and activism. PAVE’s general member meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on Oct. 18 in the PAVE office, room #3147 of the Student Activity Center. For more information or to find out how to get involved, e-mail email@example.com.