Information about Intimate Partner Violence for College Students: What Is It, and What Are the Warning Signs?
By Laura Gazzard, See the Triumph Guest Blogger
What is intimate partner violence? Have you ever heard of it? As a college student, now is a great time to learn the basics so you can identify it in friends, family, and even your own life. Intimate partner violence, or IPV, is a serious preventable public health issue that affects millions of Americans, and 16-24 year olds are the most affected population. The term IPV describes physical, sexual, or psychological harm by a current or former partner. There are also a few other types of abuse that can fall under this category and may be overlooked because they’re not necessarily violent behaviors. According to Break the Cycle and the CDC, here are a few examples of the different types of IPV, so you can get a better picture of what they look like. Keep in mind, though, that this list is just a few examples of the different ways relationships can be abusive.
Physical abuse: Hitting, pushing, shoving, throwing, grabbing, shaking, slapping, punching, and using one’s physical strength to harm another person.
Emotional or verbal abuse: Manipulation, making you feel worthless, making threats, yelling and screaming, humiliation, and isolation
Sexual abuse: Forcing or coercing someone to do anything sexual they do not want to do, making someone afraid to say “no” to sexual activity, and humiliating someone sexually
Digital abuse: Using any form of technology to harass or stalk someone else, checking someone’s accounts without permission, threatening messages sent via text or social media, and publicly sharing private photos or other information
Financial abuse: Controlling one’s partner’s finances, getting in the way with your job success, taking your money, and ruining your credit
Often, physical abuse is much easier to identify than emotional and psychological abuse, which can make it much harder to seek help if you do not know that something is wrong to begin with.
Relationships can be healthy or unhealthy. It is important to know the difference, because unhealthy relationships can become very unsafe. Abusive relationships usually start with less noticeable tactics to control the partner and may lead to emotional or physical abuse, which both have very long-term effects on health, self-esteem, other relationships, and other areas of people’s lives. Here are ten warning signs that you may be in an unhealthy relationship:
1. Does the relationship seem overly intense or that it is moving too quickly?
2. Does your partner seem extremely jealous about you?
3. Does your partner try to control what you do?
4. Does your partner isolate you from others?
5. Does your partner try to sabotage you from being successful?
6. Does your partner criticize you?
7. Does your partner blame you for the way they treat you?
8. Does your partner seem very angry or hostile?
9. Have you tried talking to your partner about it and hear excuses in response, such as “It was just a joke” or “I didn’t mean to do it”?
10. Does your partner try to make you feel crazy and/or minimize their own actions?
Do you recognize any of these behaviors in your relationship, a relationship of someone you know? Some controlling behaviors may seem to be positive or an intense sign of a partner’s love. However, they also can be precursors to abuse. If someone is violent even just once, physically or emotionally, the chances are very high that they will be violent again.
Talk to someone else in your life about any possible abuse you or someone you know may be experiencing. Silence can make this situation worse, and there are trained professionals available to help you. If you are unsure whether any behaviors or dynamics in your relationship may be abusive, we suggest you call the National Domestic Violence Hotline (http://www.thehotline.org/, 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224) or speak to a trained counselor at your college.
Laura Gazzard is a graduate student in the Couple and Family Counseling track in the UNCG Department of Counseling and Educational Development.