Domestic violence happens on campus
The phrase “domestic violence” usually prompts an image of a married couple fighting, but there is a more appropriate phrase for students at GC: intimate partner violence.
Intimate partner violence is defined as physical, emotional and verbal abuse from any person the victim has a close relationship with.
Assistant professor of criminal justice Alesa Liles said the phrase “domestic violence” is being used less frequently in favor of “intimate partner violence” because it covers more relationship dynamics.
“It may not occur in the house, and it may not occur between people who are married. It can occur between a boyfriend and a girlfriend, a girlfriend and a girlfriend and even two friends,” Liles said. “If the relationship becomes close, and one person becomes emotionally abusive to the other person where one person doesn’t have any personal space and they become abusive—that is intimate partner violence.”
There are many different behaviors that could potentially fall under the definition of intimate partner violence. Compared to the abuse commonly associated with domestic violence, intimate partner violence encompasses the abusive behaviors that might up to a more serious offense.
Emily Brookshire, the victim’s service coordinator at the Women’s Center, warned against certain behaviors and actions that could potentially lead to a dangerous relationship with a partner.
“What’s hard to notice are the pre-domestic violence behaviors that all go in to that crime, but they’re building up to what can potentially be physical abuse,” Brookshire said. “Stalking behaviors, mental manipulation and emotional abuse are harder to spot on a college campus.”
Stalking is a common behavior exhibited by abusers, and the prevalence of social media has made it easier for people to always know where somebody is or what they are doing.
The proximity of college campuses to students’ places of residence has also made it easier for stalkers to corner victims around campus or on their commutes to class.
The more difficult behaviors to pinpoint are mental and emotional abuse, as the victim may interpret certain behaviors as expressions of love. Mental manipulation is a tactic used by abusers to guilt partners into staying in the relationship, even if the relationship is harmful or toxic.
“If someone says something like, ‘If you leave me, you’ll ruin my life,’ or ‘I’m going to kill myself,’ from anyone of any gender, that’s manipulative behavior,” said Sabrina Hom, an assistant professor of philosophy and the coordinator of the women’s and gender studies program.
Dramatized versions of relationships on TV can be seen as normal to some people, but these depictions often paint emotional abuse in a romantic light. In the “Twilight” series, the controlling and obsessive nature of Edward Cullen towards the protagonist Bella is a prime example of pop culture fantasizing a toxic relationship.
Going through another person’s phone or personal belongings, guilting a person into spending less time with other people and being persistent with advances even when a person has not expressed interest or said “no” are also examples of manipulative behaviors.
GC offers a variety of options victims can take against people exhibiting abusive behavior.
Reporting to Title IX is one option for handling interpersonal violence, sexual assaults and rape where students file an official report and have a sanctioned hearing. This route is usually taken in very severe cases, but there are other actions students can take to promote their personal safety.
If students live in residence halls, they can report a person to a CA for trespassing when they show signs of stalking. A no-contact is an order from GC filed through Title IX which can apply to specific places, such as the residence hall, or across all of campus, restricting student the student from making any sort of contact with another student anywhere on GC property.
This can also apply to students off campus who want to prevent another student from contacting them through email, phone, text messaging or social media. Students given a no-contact should comply with the order or risk further conduct charges being filed.
The Women’s Center on campus also has staff members and resources available for students who need assistance going through with these actions as well as contacting GC Public Safety to file restraining orders against other students through the legal system in Baldwin county.
Graphic by Rachael Alesia | Art Director