Domestic abuse warning signs are not talked about enough

Dylan Burkett/The Cougar

Some students struggle recognizing domestic abuse in their college relationships, therefore, colleges must take action to provide additional support through increased social resources and promoting conversations. 

Navigating new people, experiences and expectations may be tricky but the hardest part of it all may come from not being properly educated on how to love safely.

Relationships and college campuses prove to have a plethora of ups and downs.

Many students end up feeling overwhelmed and confused navigating hookup culture, parties, the ‘we’re just friends stage’ and much more.

This doesn’t even begin to cover the exploration of learning your wants, likes, dislikes and other preferences when it comes to relationships. 

In college, many student often feel lonely.

In order to overcome loneliness, students take different routes that include putting themselves out there, talking to friends and families and finding reprieve through hookups. 

By their senior year, 72 percent of students have participated in hookup culture, according to a study.

The high percentage can be accounted for by a few things including societal expectations, sexual pleasure and relationship formation. 

With a majority of students’ relationship experiences resulting from hookup culture, the nature of the experience sometimes makes it difficult to have safe and trustworthy conversations.

Many students ignore the warning signs of violent and unhealthy relationships as they are eager to find their true love or someone to make them feel loved.

College-aged women are the most at risk of intimate partner violence with that age group reporting the highest cases of abuse.

Moreover, 21 percent of these women report abuse from a current partner while 32 percent report abuse from a previous partner. 

However, these cases hardly get reported.

Victims can feel trapped by their circumstances and even 52 percent of people who know of someone being abused believe that it is not appropriate to report that abuse. 

What proves to be even more concerning is that one in four college women have either been raped or suffered an attempted rape, with 90 percent of these victims knowing their attacker and 35 percent reporting that the rape or rape attempt happened while on a date, according Charles R. Ullman and Associates law firm.

Yet colleges often do very little to protect these students.

While Title IX requires colleges and universities to investigate the case, it does not require any legal trial, legal protective order or jail time. 

This general lack of accountability from administration leaves 80 percent of college students not reporting their sexual assault, as they fear that the lack of legal protection will put them even more at risk to their abuser. 

Colleges so often ignore the conversation around domestic abuse that many students are unable to recognize the signs as they mistake it for tough love rather than abuse. 

Domestic abuse is so unfortunately common that 12 million women and one in 10 men experience it. 

The numbers are higher for minorities and impoverished groups, especially immigrants, as they struggle through not only language barriers but a lack of social resources as domestic violence is so normalized in their communities. 

One of the main reasons domestic abuse is difficult to pinpoint is for its “honeymoon” period from the assailant which causes victims to stay and not recognize that they are in an abusive relationship.

There are things you can do to help someone in an abusive relationship, such as starting the conversation about it, offering support in a way that is beneficial to them, encouraging them to reach out to community resources as well as creating a safe escape plan with them.

Most importantly, you must make the hard choice of respecting their boundaries and decisions.

A lot of these victims may not understand that they are in an unsafe relationship and it is important not to corner them which may cause them to push support away.

Falling in love can be scary and sometimes dangerous, yet colleges do not do enough to educate students on how to find the warning signs. 

Initiatives must be taken, as well as more safety procedures, to better protect students on college campuses. 

Sarah Elise Shea is a freshman English literature major who can be reached at [email protected]

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