According to Campus Safety Magazine, 43% of female college students report having experienced some level of relationship violence in their lives, and 57% of those women say that the abuse occurred while they were enrolled in college. The same study also found that 38% of students wouldn’t know how to get help for this type of violence if it were to happen to them. Because domestic abuse is such a prominent issue among college students, it’s important for all students, male and female alike, to know what to do if they ever find themselves, or someone they know, in an unhealthy relationship.
Here are some ways to get help.
Many campus, municipal, state and national phone hotlines are available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, every day of the year so that those in violent relationships can call for support and advice. A few of these hotlines are:
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (7233) or 800-787-3224 (TDD)
National Sex Assault Hotline: 800-656-4673
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence Hotline: (303)-839-1852
Places like the National Domestic Violence Hotline even offer a texting line and a Live Chat service on their website for more options on how to get in contact with experts who can help and answer questions.
Reporting the Violence
Whether or not a victim chooses to report the violent behavior of their abuser is up to them, but individuals who do choose to have options on how to go about it.
Under Title IX, a federal law that protects against not only rape and sexual harassment, but also domestic violence in U.S. federally-funded educational institutions, students who experience abuse are able to report this violence to their school and receive protection from their abusers. Some of the help the victim may receive from the school may include academic punishment for the abuser (if the abuser is another student) that isn’t quite as severe as being charged with the crime of assault, but doesn’t allow them to go unpunished either.
However, a victim of domestic violence can press legal charges if they wish to. They can even report the abuse to both their school and the law enforcement authorities. Often times, schools may even be able to aid the student in the process of pressing charges against the accused.
Within individual counseling, having a knowledgeable confidant can help clear up any uncertainties a victim may have about whether or not a violent relationship can or should be salvaged, and an expert can provide more advice on how to proceed in stopping the abuse. Alternatively, couple’s counseling may be a healthy way to work out the issues in an unhealthy relationship. Therapy may help an abuser recognize why their behavior is unacceptable and give them the tools they need to prevent these actions from happening again.
Counseling is also an option for those who have abandoned unhealthy relationships. The issue of abuse doesn’t always go away just because the relationship ends. Many victims of domestic violence suffer from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) or general feelings of unease, guilt, or shame long after they escape their abuser. There’s no shame, however, in talking to a professional. Students can either approach their own psychiatrists, psychologists, or counselors about the issue, or they can take advantage of the free mental health services most universities offer to students. Talking to someone, whether that is a stranger or a friend, can be a very healthy way to vent about trauma and relieve the burden of such a negative experience.