How to Prevent Intimate Partner Violence on Your Campus

Preventing Intimate Partner Violence

Posted by Shelley Kilpatrick on 26 May 2016 |

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What is Intimate Partner Violence (IPV)?

intimate partner violenceIntimate partner violence, which encompasses both dating and domestic violence, is a very serious form of sexual violence. And there are laws, such as Title IX and the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), that require campuses to take action. Before you can take action, it’s important to understand the scope of the problem and how intimate partner violence affects college students.

Each state defines intimate partner violence differently, with the constants being power and control. A partner, spouse or household member (of any gender) uses abusive behavior against another person—even if they are not sexually intimate. And that abusive behavior can be physical, sexual or psychological.  Signs of abusive behavior can include:

  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Jealous and angry behavior
  • Pressure for sex
  • Threatening violence

Check our previous blog post, to learn more about the signs of an emotionally abusive relationship.

How Many People Does Intimate Partner Violence Affect?

As for how many people are affected by intimate partner violence, the statistics are grim; however, things have been improving since the early 1990s.

  • An estimated two-thirds of female and male intimate partner victimizations involved a physical attack in 2002-11; the remaining third involved an attempted attack or verbal threat of harm (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2013).
  • An average of 18% of females and 11% of males were medically treated for injuries sustained during intimate partner violent victimizations in 2002–11 (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2013).
  • Most female victims of intimate partner violence were previously victimized by the same offender, including 77% of females ages 18 to 24, 76 percent of females ages 25 to 34, and 81% of females ages 35 to 49 (National Domestic Violence Hotline).

From the statistics, you can see that intimate partner violence largely affects young people on college campuses, but it also affects older, more non-traditional students too. That’s why it’s a serious concern for higher education institutions of all sizes, from community colleges to large universities. 

What are the Unique Challenges College Students Face?

While intimate partner violence affects individuals on a national level, there are specific concerns for the college population. The New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence summarizes many of these challenges, which can include:

  • Feelings of isolation due to being away from friends, family and their communities.
  • Fear of reporting to authorities if drugs and/or alcohol was involved.
  • Finding it hard to distance themselves from their abuser when they live in the same place or have classes together.
  • Unclear policies that do not specifically address intimate partner violence.
  • Untrained staff that are unprepared to deal with intimate partner violence.

Additionally, the National Center for Victims of Crime points out that intimate partner violence—whether or not it’s physical—can negatively affect college students. For example, rather than risk running into their abuser, victims will simply drop out of college. And then there are also the psychological effects such as:

  • Anxiety and depression
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Erosion of a sense of safety
  • Posttraumatic stress
  • Sleeping and eating disorders
  • Stress-related illness

With an understanding of intimate partner violence and how it affects students, college and university campuses can work on policies and training to effectively combat it.

What are Best Practices for Addressing Intimate Partner Violence?

The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence in collaboration with the Injury Prevention Center at CT Children’s Medical Center/Hartford Hospital lays out best practices for addressing intimate partner violence on campus:

  • Clearly define each type of intimate partner violence and include language specifically prohibiting it.
  • Offer training for the entire campus, including faculty, staff and students, that covers Title IX, VAWA and also specifically addresses intimate partner violence prevention.
  • Supply students with resources for support services available both on and off campus.
  • Explain procedures for reporting intimate partner violence.
  • Establish consequences for misconduct, in addition to procedures for investigation.
  • Provide written notification of options for victims regarding reasonable accommodations in changing academic, living, transportation, and working schedules.

Key Takeaways

Intimate partner violence encompasses a wide range of abusive behavior that negatively affects victims, of which many are college students. To tackle the problem, there are many actions campuses can take, including updating their policies and providing training.

To learn more about our training that covers intimate partner violence for higher education institutions, request a demo today.

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