Recognizing Violence in Relationships

Purple graphic of Domestic Violence Month Awareness. Photo via Ruth's Cottage and The Patticake House.

Many people become involved in domestic violence situations without knowing it. At the college level, many people are exploring the dynamics of new relationships. We often learn about navigating them through interactions with family, peers, media, and traditions. The idea of relationships is often romanticized, as most people want to have positive experiences with other people that they can cherish.

However, what’s often glossed over are the conversations regarding what can make relationships unhealthy, and that many people become involved in domestic violence situations without knowing it.  

According to the Department of Justice, domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship (including platonic, familial, romantic, and sexual ones). It includes any acts of physical, sexual, emotional, economic, financial, psychological, or technological behaviors used to exert control over another individual. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reported that 1 in 5 college students reported experiencing abuse from an intimate partner. 

It is not always easy to recognize what behaviors should be considered acceptable. It can be more difficult to recognize the signs if one doesn’t believe that they belong to the stereotypical relationship dynamic that is often portrayed in media (married woman being abused by husband). Anyone can be manipulated and subject to abuse, regardless of factors such as age, gender identity, sexuality, class, or amount of life experience. Similarly, anyone can also be abusive. A relationship of any regard should involve respect and allow everyone involved to have their own autonomy.  

Some signs of domestic violence include someone you are involved with: 

Demanding that they go through your phone 

Keeping track of your location 

Preventing you from working or going to school 

Withholding or controlling your income 

Calling you names 

Manipulating and coercing you into things  

Physically causing you harm 

Threatening to cause you harm 

Domestic violence also goes hand in hand with sexual assault. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), college aged adults are at considerable risk for sexual violence with 50% of the assaults occurring in the fall season. 

Some signs of sexual assault and abuse include someone you’re involved with: 

Coercing you into sex 

Spreading sexual content without consent (revenge porn) 

Giving unwanted sexual touches or advances 

Refusing to engage in safe sex practices 

Committing sexual acts that you did not consent to  

Experiencing domestic violence or sexual assault at any level can be detrimental to your well-being. Those affected may withdraw from usual routines and activities, interfering with the ability to attend class or work. You may find yourself limiting social contact with others and feeling isolated. Your ability to make decisions may decrease, as you fear consequences. Feelings of shame and doubt may overwhelm you, as you lose a sense of self. 

If you feel like you may be in a domestic violence situation, there any many resources that are available. For emergency situations, it is recommended to call 911 first. Dial 9-911 if you make the call from a campus phone line. The Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College (ABAC) Police Department’s non-emergency number can be reached at 229-391-5060.  

ABAC has a counseling center that includes services such as crisis response and personal counseling. To schedule an appointment with a counselor, call 229-391-5135. For the support line, call 833-855-0079.  

Title XI is a federal law that prohibits harassment and discrimination in schools. To file a Title XI complaint, you can go online to to find links for referrals. The reports submitted are reviewed by a Title XI coordinator.  

Ruth’s Cottage is the local domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy program that serves the counties of Tift, Ben Hill, Irwin, Worth, and Turner. You can reach their hotline at 229-388-1541. Callers can get information on how to seek emergency shelter as needed and how to obtain a protective order. Ruth’s Cottage does not share any of the information provided by callers with ABAC or law enforcement unless provided permission to do so.  

Domestic violence and sexual assault are nationally recognized issues. The national domestic violence hotline can be reached at 1-800-799-7233, and the national sexual assault hotline can be reached at 1-800-656-4673. 

For those who are unsure if they are experiencing domestic violence or sexual assault, they may contact the resources provided to speak with trained professionals who can provide guidance. It is important to know that there is no justification for any level of violence in any relationship, and that those affected are not at fault. There is always help available to that can aid in recognizing abuse, as well as learning how to move forward.

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