#HCAwarenessWeek: Domestic Violence; Ally Training with Morgantown’s RDVIC and Title IX

According to a report by the US Department of Justice, “Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.”

On college campuses, these numbers are even more severe. “21 percent of college students report having experienced dating violence by a current partner, and 32 percent of college students report experiencing dating violence by a previous partner,” details HAWC: Healing Abuse Working for Change. “Peer pressure, the presence of drugs and alcohol, stressful schedules, tight-knit friend groups and social media contribute to higher rates of abuse, sexual assault and stalking for students.”

“Young people also have limited relationship experience, and often if a high school relationship was at all violent or unhealthy, it is likely that future college relationships will be unhealthy too,” HAWC continues. This means, as a college student, coming into close contact with an abusive relationship is extremely likely-- whether it’s yourself or someone close to you.

So, what exactly is violence in a relationship? Both the RDVIC and Title IX speakers used a definition from the World Health Organization: “The intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against oneself, another person, or against a group or community, which either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in injury, death, psychological harm, maldevelopment or deprivation.”

To elaborate, domestic violence/intimate partner violence is “a pattern of behaviors used by one partner against another to maintain power and control within the relationship.”

Threats and behavior that may indicate patterns of abuse and violence are detailed by the Domestic Abuse Intervention Project’s gender-inclusive Power and Control WheelUsing IntimidationUsing Emotional AbuseUsing IsolationMinimizing, Denying and BlamingUsing ChildrenUsing Gender Privilege, Using Economic Abuse and Using Coercion and ThreatsSo, why do people abuse? RDVIC says that beyond a desire for power and control, it may come from entitlement, maintaining priority over their partner and that abuse is learned behavior through witnessing or experiencing abuse (though, “most people with this history do not hurt others.”)

Many Her Campus members asked about what we can do if we see a friend at risk in a toxic relationship, and the answer is to validate their feelings, listen and always be there to support. Using ultimatums to try to get your friend away from that relationship often ends in further isolation, which is a key aspect of power and control dynamics.

If you or someone you love is in need of immediate care, or you’re interested in more information, contact our speakers from last night's events and their respective organizations.

RDVIC: Maggie Von Dolteren; [email protected]

WVU Title IX: Samuel Wilmoth; 304-293-5600 [email protected]

This article was written as part of HC at WVU's Domestic Violence Awareness Week. If you or someone you know is struggling from a domestic violence situation, call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.