In light of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, awareness and justice must be brought toward those who need help the most—victims of abuse.
Forms of domestic violence such as emotional, verbal, physical and psychological abuse may happen in some form each day in the lives of college students. Oftentimes small, everyday negative comments and jabs are brushed off and overlooked in the grand scheme of a relationship. A partner may make excuses for a significant other’s demeaning behavior or blame themselves and feel like they deserve to be treated poorly, but there is no excuse for domestic violence.
Domestic violence is defined as behaviors used by one person in a relationship to control the other, according to information from domesticviolence.org. Examples of this form of violence range from small to large instances and include name-calling, putdowns, keeping a partner from contacting their family or friends, stalking, intimidation and sexual assault.
While no relationship can ever be “perfect,” it is important for students of all genders and backgrounds to be able to detect patterns of abuse and learn how to reach out for help if they feel uncomfortable or threatened.
The numbers do not lie. Women ages 20 to 24 have the greatest risk of becoming domestic violence victims, and 19 percent of all college females will experience some form of dating violence, according to statistics released June 28 by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Although college-aged women are more at risk for these incidents, 15 percent of domestic violence victims nationwide are men, according to the same statistics. Men may also be less likely to report abuse events. The issue of domestic violence on a college campus is impossible to box into one stereotypical type of perpetrator and incident. Odds are, many Texas State students are or have been the victim of domestic violence or know someone else who has.
An estimated 960,000 domestic violence incidents take place across the nation each year, and only about 25 percent of these crimes are reported to police officers, according to the same statistics. It is hauntingly apparent thousands of domestic violence victims are afraid to speak up and ask for help. When feelings like love, hate, belittlement, hopelessness and insecurity are mixed together, relationships can become a recipe for potential instances of domestic violence.
One of the only ways to combat this issue is to raise awareness among the general public and provide a variety of resources for those in need of help. Some students speak nonchalantly about witnessing incidents like a couple arguing and physically fighting in a nearby parking lot on their way to class. While it may seem like “none of your business,” this is exactly how thousands of domestic violence cases go unreported to police. Students should not be afraid to call university or San Marcos police departments if they witness or know of any domestic violence incident taking place, no matter how big or how small they feel it is.
Anyone who is experiencing domestic violence, looking for resources or questioning any unhealthy aspects of their relationship should call the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit the website www.thehotline.org. The confidential phone line and website offer trained experts available 24 hours a day to answer questions and give advice.
In addition, a convenient resource for students is the Texas State Counseling Center, which offers one-on-one and group services to aid victims of domestic violence. In the event of an emergency, an incident should be reported to 911.
Domestic violence is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly in any instance. No Bobcat should ever feel alone or afraid to report an incident they fell victim to, know about or witnessed. It is highly unlikely domestic violence will ever cease to exist in today’s society, but there are plenty of resources in place to ensure victims are given the justice they deserve.