Domestic Violence and College Students

Stats, Facts, and Interventions

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month; a month dedicated to bringing awareness to and spreading information about issues of Domestic Violence, Dating Violence, and Intimate Partner Violence. 

Importantly for us here at NDSU, it is understanding that this is an issue that happens primarily in our age group, and it is most likely happening around us as you read this. It sounds scary because it is. It is statistically likely that someone you walk past on your way to class, sit next to in your lecture, or ride the bus with could be experiencing violence behind closed doors.

What is Domestic Violence? What is Intimate Partner Violence?

 CAWS North Dakota, a group dedicated to ending sexual/dating violence in North Dakota, defines Domestic Violence (DV) as “[A]n ongoing pattern of behaviors and abusive tactics used by an intimate partner or ex-partner to gain complete power and control over a person’s life.” Domestic Violence can also happen from a parent/family member to child, sibling to sibling, etc. The terms Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Dating Violence are used to describe situations where a current or ex intimate partner is perpetuating the abuse.    

The Facts and Statistics 

As I stated above, DV/IPV is most likely to take place within our age demographic. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), women aged 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner. They go on to add that 1 in 3 women have been physically abused or attacked by a partner in their lifetime, and 1 in 10 women have experienced rape by an intimate partner.     

Though women are statistically shown to experience IPV more often, domestic violence is not an issue exclusive to women. NCADV states that 1 in 4 men will experience physical violence from a partner in their lifetime, such as shoving, slapping, kicking, etc. 1 in 25 men are seriously injured by an intimate partner in their lifetime. 

Other frightening statistics provided by NCADV show that “1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence (e.g. beating, burning, strangling) by an intimate partner in their lifetime.”  

The reason we fight to bring attention to these statistics is because domestic violence can and does lead to death of victims, and/or their loved ones and friends. NCADV reports that: 

“A study of intimate partner homicides found that 20% of victims were not the intimate partners themselves, but family members, friends, neighbors, persons who intervened, law enforcement responders, or bystanders… 72% of all murder-suicides involve an intimate partner; 94% of the victims of these murder suicides are female.”

It has been shown that depressive and suicidal thoughts increase dramatically in victims of domestic violence, as well as the risk for disease and drug addiction.   

I include the gruesome details because I need to drive home that this is not a petty issue. DV/IPV are not things to be ignored. As I hope these stats have exemplified, DV does not just affect two people, but entire families, friend groups, and community members.   

What are the statistics for college-aged people?

According to statistics from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 43% of college age women report having experienced abusive or controlling dating behaviors from a partner; 29% say they’ve been in an abusive relationship, and 52% report that their friend(s) have been in abusive relationships. 57% of college students that have experienced DV say it began in college.

All of this goes to show how prevalent this issue is. What’s more concerning is the statistic that 57% of college students reported that they found it difficult to identify when DV is happening around them.

How do I tell if someone around me is being abused? 

There are many indicators that abuse is happening in a relationship, here are some of the most notable ones:

  1. A person has been isolated from friends and family, does not go out anymore, or generally does not interact with anyone else at their partner’s will. 
  2. One partner is constantly steamrolling the other; they may disregard their partner’s concerns, needs, or comfort. 
  3. A person constantly “needs permission” from their partner to go out with friends, go to class, talk to someone, etc. They may go as far as demanding social media passwords from their partner to monitor them, or even take their phone/computer away from them. They may withhold things like phones, medication, money, etc. to maintain control over their partner. 
  4. If physical abuse is happening, there will be obvious bruising, cuts, or other injuries. Many victims will not seek medical attention for their injuries, or even refuse to acknowledge their existence. 
  5. A person may blame themself for their partner’s bad behavior; e.g., “I shouldn’t have made them angry” or “I started it because I talked back and argued.”

What resources can I go to on campus if I am/have been a victim of DV/IPV?

There are many places and resources you can go to here on campus! Some of them are the Student Health Center in the Wellness Center, the Counseling Center in Ceres Hall, or your RA’s and Hall Directors. One of the best resources you can look to is the Title IX Office in Old Main. One of the people working there is the lovely Megan Talcott, who is our Sexual Assault Prevention and Advocacy Coordinator. She can help you with filing a protective order, as well as changing your class schedule or housing to protect yourself. 

Other resources on campus include our food pantry, childcare services, and the clinic in the Student Health Center!          

How do I show support for victims of DV/IPV?    

        The first and most important thing you can do is be an active and supportive listener to victims and their stories. Reassure to them that they are not at fault for the harmful actions of another person, and that you are there to help them. Offer them a ride to a medical facility or therapist’s office, offer them a place to stay, make sure they are able to financially support themself, etc. Be there for them, they truly need it.

How do I help out with DV Awareness on campus? 

Well, reading this article and actively learning about the issue is a great start! But there are many other things you can do as well. As I stated before, October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM), and there are many activities happening to spread awareness about the issue. The NDSU Violence Prevention Educators Instagram (@ndsuvpes) will be posting trivia, as well as hosting a scavenger hunt for campus resources! An important event to participate in is Purple Thursday on October 19th! Wear purple that day to show solidarity with victims of DV and raise awareness!  

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