Dating and Intimate Partner Violence on College Campuses
Ebony Russell, MSW
Underserved Communities Outreach Advocate
Have you experienced dating violence? You’re not alone. In fact, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, college-aged women (between the ages of 16-24) have the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence. Twenty-one 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. 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. In addition, young adults often have limited relationship experience and may never have had someone talk with them about what healthy, affirming relationships should look like. Experiencing violence and abuse in the home, as well as unhealthy and abusive dating relationships in high school can also increase the risk for someone finding themselves in an abusive relationship in college.
College students face a variety of obstacles in accessing services to assist them in escaping an abusive relationship. College students often feel trapped by their social networks and the relatively closed environment of many campuses. Being away from home may cause students to feel isolated from their personal support networks and resources for help. This is especially true if the student is attending school in a different state or country from where they grew up. (Break the Cycle, Inc. 2005)
In some circumstances, students may not define their experience as abusive, not recognizing emotional, verbal, sexual and financial abuse as all being aspects of an abusive relationship. Sadly, abusive behaviors may have become a norm to them which can lead to students not reporting the crime and not seeking and receiving the help they need.
If you or someone you know is a student experiencing abuse, consider contacting PADV to begin exploring services and legal remedies that colleges may not be able to provide. PADV offers counseling services, emergency shelter and a support group that focuses on college violence. Additionally, you can contact your school’s counseling center or Title IX office to discover resources the school has available to you as you work to end this damaging relationship. While this experience may feel scary and overwhelming, reaching out for help is the first step.
For more information about how PADV is supporting victims of domestic violence on college campuses please call 404.764.9343. For assistance or to talk about anything related to domestic violence, please call our 24-hour hotline at 404.873.1766.