You’ve only been back to school for five minutes, and it’s already October! The month claimed by causes big and small as THEIR month for action and awareness. Breast Cancer, Domestic Violence, Shelter Pet Adoption might sound familiar, Sarcasm Awareness, Spinach Lovers, and Stamp Collecting probably not so much.
Working for a cause is great. But, learning about what creates the need for the cause is more important. Especially for undergrads.
So let’s just jump right into the deep end and take a look at one of the most distressing causes – Domestic Violence.
Domestic Violence? Why that one? Because it’s about relationships. And learning how to form healthy relationships and end unhealthy ones is the most important thing you have to learn in college.
“Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.”
This is a huge topic. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically, but the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.
Data points the way
It’s also a huge problem. Government and private studies by the CDC, US Department of Justice, public health agencies, and private research institutes have compiled complex data on Domestic Violence and Abuse. Here are a few relevant statistics to wrap your brain around:
- Women between the ages of 18-24 are most commonly abused by an intimate partner.
- 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States have been raped in their lifetime.
- 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been victims of [some form of] physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime.
- 19.3 million women and 5.1 million men in the United States have been stalked in their lifetime
Power and control
This information is meant to empower you, not scare you. There are wonderful people for you to date and plenty of time to explore that universe.
While you’re figuring out everything else in your life, here are two simple guidelines for healthy relationships:
- Someone special will accept the other people in your life, not want to replace them.
- A healthy relationship is one of equality and freedom.
In the next part of this October Cause for Action series, we will explore the signs of an abusive relationship and how to help a friend or yourself get out of one.
Navigating relationships of all kinds: partners, friends, bosses, teachers, parents, siblings – is life’s biggest challenge. You will not get them right every time. No one does. The key is to get really quiet and listen to your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it’s not right. Walk away. If you need help, here it is.