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Obstacles Facing College Students

 Students often have difficulty recognizing verbal and emotional abuse, or do not have enough experience in relationships to know that the abusive behavior is not normal or healthy. College students may feel trapped by the social networks and closed environment of many campuses. Away from home for the first time, students can become isolated from their personal support network and resources for help. Students that seek legal protection may also find themselves with few options if their state does not allow victims who are dating their abuser to obtain civil protection orders (also known as restraining orders).

 College students experience dating violence at staggering rates and face unique obstacles in accessing services to escape an abusive relationship.

The Facts

  • Women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence.
  • Nearly one-third of college students report physically assaulting a dating partner in the previous 12 months.
  • As many as one quarter of female students experience sexual assault over the course of their college career.
  • Approximately 90% of victims of sexual assault on college campuses know their attacker. 

Personalized Safety Plan

Your safety is the most important thing. Listed below are tips to help keep you safe. It is important to get help with your safety plan. Many of the resources listed can help you.

If you are in an abusive relationship, think about…

  1. Having important phone numbers nearby for you and your children. Numbers to have are the police, hotlines, friends and the local shelter.
  2. Friends or neighbors you could tell about the abuse. Ask them to call the police if they hear angry or violent noises. If you have children, teach them how to dial 911. Make up a code word that you can use when you need help.
  3. How to get out of your home safely. Practice ways to get out.
  4. Safer places in your home where there are exits and no weapons. If you feel abuse is going to happen try to get your abuser to one of these safer places.
  5. Any weapons in the house. Think about ways that you could get them out of the house.
  6. Even if you do not plan to leave, think of where you could go. Think of how you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house – taking out the trash, walking the pet or going to the store. Put together a bag of things you use everyday (see the checklist below). Hide it where it is easy for you to get.
  7. Going over your safety plan often.

If you consider leaving your abuser, think about…

  1. Four places you could go if you leave your home.
  2. People who might help you if you left. Think about people who will keep a bag for you. Think about people who might lend you money. Make plans for your pets.
  3. Keeping change for phone calls or getting a cell phone.
  4. Opening a bank account or getting a credit card in your name.
  5. How you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house – taking out the trash, walking the family pet, or going to the store. Practice how you would leave.
  6. How you could take your children with you safely. There are times when taking your children with you may put all of your lives in danger. You need to protect yourself to be able to protect your children.
  7. Think about reviewing your safety plan often.
  8. Putting together a bag of things you use every day. Hide it where it is easy for you to get.

ITEMS TO TAKE IF POSSIBLE

Money
Keys to car, house, work
Extra clothes
Medicine
Important papers for you and your children
Birth certificates
Social security cards
School and medical records
Bankbooks, credit cards
Driver’s license
Car registration
Welfare identification
Passports, green cards, work permits
Lease/rental agreement
Mortgage payment book, unpaid bills
Insurance papers
PPO, divorce papers, custody orders
Address book
Pictures, jewelry, things that mean a lot to you
Items for your children (toys, blankets, etc.)

If you have left your abuser, think about…

  1. Your safety – you still need to.
  2. Getting a cell phone.
  3. Getting a PPO from the court. Keep a copy with you all the time. Give a copy to the police, people who take care of your children, their schools and your boss.
  4. Changing the locks. Consider putting in stronger doors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a security system and outside lights.
  5. Telling friends and neighbors that your abuser no longer lives with you. Ask them to call the police if they see your abuser near your home or children.
  6. Telling people who take care of your children the names of people who are allowed to pick them up. If you have a PPO protecting your children, give their teachers and babysitters a copy of it.
  7. Telling someone at work about what has happened. Ask that person to screen your calls. If you have a PPO that includes where you work, consider giving your boss a copy of it and a picture of the abuser. Think about and practice a safety plan for your workplace. This should include going to and from work.
  8. Not using the same stores or businesses that you did when you were with your abuser.
  9. Someone that you can call if you feel down. Call that person if you are thinking about going to a support group or workshop.
  10. Safe way to speak with your abuser if you must.
  11. Going over your safety plan often.

WARNING: Abusers try to control their victim’s lives. When abusers feel a loss of control – like when victims try to leave them – the abuse often gets worse. Take special care when you leave. Keep being careful even after you have left.

 

Dating

Teenagers often experience violence in dating relationships.  Statistics show that one in three teenagers has experienced violence in a dating relationship. In dating violence, one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through abuse. Dating violence crosses all racial, economic and social lines. Most victims are young women, who are also at greater risk for serious injury. Young women need a dating safety plan.

Teen dating violence often is hidden because teenagers typically:

  • are inexperienced with dating relationships.
  • are pressured by peers to act violently.
  • want independence from parents.
  • have “romantic” views of love.

Teen dating violence is influenced by how teenagers look at themselves and others.

Young men may believe:

  • they have the right to “control” their female partners in any way necessary.
  • “masculinity” is physical aggressiveness
  • they “possess” their partner.
  • they should demand intimacy.
  • they may lose respect if they are attentive and supportive toward their girlfriends.

Young women may believe:

  • they are responsible for solving problems in their relationships
  • their boyfriend’s jealousy, possessiveness and even physical abuse, is “romantic.”
  • abuse is “normal” because their friends are also being abused.
  • there is no one to ask for help.

Teenagers can choose better relationships when they learn to identify the early warning signs of an abusive relationship, understand that they have choices, and believe they are valuable people who deserve to be treated with respect.

Early warning signs that your date may eventually become abusive:

  • Extreme jealousy
  • Controlling behavior
  • Quick involvement
  • Unpredictable mood swings
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Explosive anger
  • Isolates you from friends and family
  • Uses force during an argument
  • Shows hypersensitivity
  • Believes in rigid sex roles
  • Blames others for his problems or feelings
  • Cruel to animals or children
  • Verbally abusive
  • Abused former partners
  • Threatens violence

Common clues that indicate a teenager may be experiencing dating violence:

  • Physical signs of injury
  • Truancy, dropping out of school
  • Failing grades
  • Indecision
  • Changes in mood or personality
  • Use of drugs/alcohol
  • Pregnancy
  • Emotional outburst
  • Isolation

Other Helpful Dating Violence Resources