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September 26, 2023

Dating and domestic violence appears on college campuses
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A man pulled a woman’s motionless body out of an Atlantic City casino elevator after knocking her unconscious. The man was former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice and the woman was Rice’s wife Janay Rice. At the time, the two were engaged. They became married after the surveillance footage was released by TMZ.

Since then the National Football League has received attention on how it punishes players for domestic violence.

Meanwhile, 20 people per minute will become a victim of physical intimate partner violence in the United States according the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month.

It is a common misconception that domestic violence only happens within married couples. However, fifty-seven percent of college students reported experiencing dating violence while in college according to The National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Females in between the ages of 16 and 24 are more at risk for rape, according to Associate Dean for Research and Academic Affairs of Dedman College Renee McDonald.

“In college and actually in the world, most of the time rape is perpetrated by an acquaintance,” said McDonald. “We often think of rape being a stranger or in a dark alley, or a parking garage at night, or something like that and those things certainly do happen, but the bulk of sexual assaults and sexual coercion happens by acquaintance.”

McDonald along with psychology department chair Ernest Jouriles research domestic violence in relationships of adult couples and teens.

Victims of dating and domestic violence experience more than sexual and physical abuse. An abusive relationship grows gradually and can include emotional, verbal, digital, and financial abuse.

Many perpetrators of domestic violence will try to isolate their victims from family and friends.

“That’s the number one thing that perpetrators of domestic violence will say is: ‘If I can isolate that individual so that they don’t have friends or family that they can talk to about abuse, then I got them,’” said Sarah Feurbacher, clinic director of SMU’s Center for Family Counseling.

Feurbacher counsels victims and perpetrators of domestic violence at the Center. The Center offers counseling to the SMU and Dallas communities.

Women are not the only victims of domestic and dating violence. The American Bar Association reports that each year 835,000 men will experience physical assault by an intimate partner. Male victims are less likely to notify police of their abuse.

“It is interesting that some of the research has indicated that male victims are less likely to call the police and come forward, partly because of cultural stereotypes.” said McDonald.

On a radio show, McDonald listened to a male caller tell his story of domestic violence. The man reported his abuse to the police. However, the police laughed at him.

McDonald said, “I think there is growing awareness that men are victimize as well with similar kinds of effects on their lives and functioning as it affects women.”

An abusive relationship can have effect a victim’s emotional and mental health. It can cause Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, the inability to trust, depression, and anxiety. Some victims believe they are the reason for the abuse and develop shame.

Abuse can have long-lasting effects on the self-esteem among teenage and young adult victims.

“In that age, you are trying to find yourself and you are trying to figure out who you are,” said Feubacher. “If you got someone telling you who you should be or why you are not good enough, then it is crushing an already fragile individual and fragile system. It could be detrimental.”

Mechanical engineering and mathematics double major Lade Obamehinti believes whether or not a person’s knows his or hers worth is an important part of the equation.

“There is a complex correlation that can remedy the issue [dating violence],” said Obamehinti, a senior. “If women respect themselves more, men will respect them more, and if men respect women more, women will grow to respect themselves more.”

Obamehinti believes a person’s awareness of self-worth and the worth of others starts at childhood.

According to Feubacher, perpetrators abuse for wanting power and control. They tend to seek victims that they believe are safe targets, people who view themselves as worthless or unlovable before entering the relationship.

SMU has many programs that try to prevent dating violence. The University is implementing recommendations created by the Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Policies and Procedures to prevent sexual assault. McDonald and Professor Jouriles developed a video on bystander intervention to mobilize people and encourage victims to come forward in order to end the violence when it happens. SMU students are taking a part of the student-led movement Not on My Campus,” which encourages students to speak up about sexual assault and help create a safer campus.

If students suspect a friend to be in an abusive relationship, McDonald encourages them to be supportive and speak to their friend. Students can help friends find help and get more information.

SMU provides services for victims of dating and domestic violence. Victims can seek counseling at the SMU Counseling and Psychiatric Services and the Center for Family Counseling. Victims can also seek counseling at the Resource Center, which specializes in LGBT services.

Also, victims can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799- SAFE (7233).

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