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Domestic abuse incidences a campus concern

Recent incidences of domestic abuse on campus have caught the eye of administration, but some say this is an issue many students keep hushed.

“I have noticed the increase of [domestic abuse] as well,” said Executive Director of Residential Living Nathan Thomas. “It is certainly something we have had conversations about at the administrative level.”

Thomas said the system in place to educate students about abuse may need revamping.

“We are trying to figure out if we need to change what we’re already doing or if we need to develop brand new ideas,” he said. “We try to teach them about it in freshmen classes and at dorm meetings as well.”

Thomas said if a student is involved in a domestic abuse situation, it is up to them to decide if they will press charges.

“If it is a boyfriend-girlfriend thing, at the judicial end, we will talk to the students and inquire about what happened,” he said. “But any charges are left up to the student. Any student has the right to charge another student.”

University Police Lt. Troy Eeten said recent incidences of abuse have been mostly arguing and minor contact, but no physical altercations.

“Most of what we’ve seen have been people getting upset and pushing or grabbing a wrist,” he said. “Of course, these are just what have been reported, but I think if it were a big issue [on campus] we would see more reported.”

However, Eeten said he believes many incidences are not reported.

“A lot of people just tend to put things off,” he said. “College students are busy and many consider it minor.”

Students should report abuse as quickly as possible, Eeten said.

“The accuracy of facts is greatest right after an incident,” he said. “And as with any physical altercation, the preferred method would be to call us immediately. That way we know what’s going on and can prevent future occurrences.”

Eeten said it’s important for students to understand the reporting process in abuse cases.

“Generally if it’s happening, it’s going to continue if there’s not some intervention,” he said.

Sophomore President of the Bradley “To Write Love on Her Arms” chapter Ashley Kowalczyk said she thinks the media downplays the severity of domestic violence.

“Shows like ‘Jersey Shore’ and ‘Teen Mom’ where these girls hit their boyfriends make it seem like it’s okay to do that,” she said. “You don’t see the signs much on campus, but it happens. It’s a shame thing, and people don’t want to come forward.”

Kowalczyk said she thinks students should be better informed about abuse.

“They do a good job with talking about date rape and alcohol, but I don’t recall ever hearing about domestic abuse,” she said.

Domestic Violence Case Worker for the Center for Prevention of Abuse Fran Reyes said red flags of an abusive relationship include making threats, isolating a partner, abusing drugs or alcohol, humiliating a partner in public and threatening to commit suicide.

“A lot of us here practice that knowledge is power,” she said. “If you know someone in that situation, the best to do is talk them through it.”

Reyes said the best option for friends of people in abusive relationships is to offer support.

“Don’t give them recommendations,” she said. “Support is the bottom line. Often people are highly dependent on the abuser for not only financial reasons, but emotional reasons, too. They won’t leave unless they have support.”

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