You’re meeting your friend at Saxby’s for coffee. She seems upset, and so you ask her what’s wrong.
“Nothing,” she says, biting her lip. “It’s just….my boyfriend is really controlling. The distance makes things really difficult. He doesn’t want me to go to parties or anything and gets mad if I don’t text him back right away. But it’s not like I’m in an abusive relationship or anything, he just really cares about me a lot. He means well, you know?”
Drawing the line between a healthy relationship and an abusive one is tough.
If your boyfriend doesn’t care about you, he’s not putting enough effort into the relationship. If he’s texting you constantly, it can be suffocating.
The reality is, more people than you think are in abusive relationships. Just because your partner doesn’t physically lay hands on you, that doesn’t mean he/she can’t be emotionally manipulative.
While the majority of abusive relationships consist of a dominant male partner, females are capable of being the abuser as well.
43% of all college women experience abusive relationships. Almost 1 out of every 3 women says she has been in an abusive relationship. And unfortunately, more than half of all dating violence occurs during college.
69% of female survivors and 53% of male survivors faced some violence from their partner before the age of 25.
“I was in an abusive relationship my freshman year,” Emily*, a junior at Temple University shared. “I didn’t realize it was abusive at first, I just thought he loved me a lot.”
This mentality isn’t uncommon. There’s a certain stigma behind what is considered “abusive” and what isn’t.
Abuse can range from physical assault to derogatory or insulting remarks. If you or someone you know feels like they need to constantly act a certain way in social situations due to the nature of the relationship, that is one telltale sign of abuse.
“It started out with the little things, like he [my boyfriend] would tell me I wouldn’t be allowed to wear certain things because they were ‘too revealing’. I didn’t stand up for myself, which just made his behavior worse. At one point, he didn’t believe me when I said I was at the gym, so he made me take a picture and send it to him. Even after I sent the picture, he still thought I was lying to him,” Emily said.
In addition to verbal abuse, physical violence is also quite common on college campuses.
According to the University of Michigan’s Sexual Assault and Prevention Center website 53% of domestic violence victims experienced abuse by their current/former partner. Furthermore, 60% of all acquaintance rapes occur in casual or official relationships.
“A misconception is that rape can only occur between two strangers or people who don’t know each other that well. Rape can also occur when two people are dating. If you don’t want to have sex with someone, regardless of how intimate you two have been in the past, it can still be classified as rape,” Ina Halili, a sophomore at the University of Pittsburgh said. “It happened of my good friends last year.”
The majority of females in abusive relationships hide it from their loved ones. If you know someone who you think may be experiencing emotional or physical abuse, speak up.
*Name has been changed due to privacy reasons