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HURRICANE HEALTHWATCH: Relationship violence takes many forms

Dear Hurricane,

One of my suitemates has a roommate who lives nearby and goes home often. When the roommate is not home, my suitemate will invite his girlfriend to stay the night. Sometimes when she is over, I overhear terrible arguing – loud screaming and crying, objects breaking, a lot of noise. Some nights, the noise is so much I can’t sleep. I believe they are violent with each other. Should I say something to my suitemate? If I get involved, I could jeopardize my friendship with my suitemate – especially if I’m wrong; however, I hate the thought of them physically fighting each other. What do you suggest?

Signed,

Sleepless Suitemate

Dear Sleepless,

You may want to involve your Resident Assistant [RA], who will probably involve the Resident Coordinator [RC]. The RA or RC will probably address each student separately to explain that neighbors are hearing arguing perceived as violent. Whether or not the couple admits the arguments are violent, the RA or RC will further explain that the longer one stays in an abusive relationship, the worse the abuse becomes and the tougher it is to break off the relationship.

The RA or RC also will advise each of them that violent behavior is a form of assault and an arresting offense. If a resident calls campus police, an officer may charge your friend and/or his girlfriend. The RA or RC will probably remind the students of campus resources for individuals finding themselves in this situation.

Unfortunately, what your friend and his girlfriend are experiencing is common. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rates of dating violence with current or former intimate partners.

Dating violence may be emotional, physical or sexual in nature among individuals who are dating, but not living together. Statistics suggest that women find themselves as the victims in the majority of dating violence cases. However, quite often men do not report their abuse.

Emotional [a.k.a. verbal or mental] abuse may not seem as serious as physical or sexual abuse, but it can devastate one’s self-esteem. Many men and women are involved in emotional abusive relationships but, unfortunately, they do not realize it. Emotional abuse often involves intimidation, name-calling and blaming. Giving orders, ignoring a partner’s opinions and controlling all situations are other signs.

Emotional abuse can progress to sexual or physical abuse.

A recent study of approximately 1,000 college women indicated 27.1 percent experienced sexual assault or abuse. More than 80 percent of the assaults were at the hand of someone they knew, [e.g., boyfriend, friend, classmate, co-worker, etc.]. The majority of these cases involved alcohol [55 percent of women and 68 percent of men had been drinking at the time of the incident], as it severely impairs judgment.

Date rape can be more traumatizing than rape by a stranger. Date rape violates trust and can divide groups of friends – leaving the victim without social support.

To reduce the likelihood of being a victim in an abusive relationship, consider the following suggestions.

* Communicate expectations: Set limits with your partner as to acceptable and unacceptable behavior.

* Equalize relationships: Avoid following stereotypes placing men in dominating positions and women in submissive positions.

* Be aware of individuals who: Ignore your wishes and personal boundaries, make you feel guilty, act excessively jealous, rely on substances or easily become hostile.

For more information on dating violence, visit rape101.com. For additional resources, contact the Counseling Center at 305-284-5511 or SART at 305-798-6666.

Good luck with resolving the situation and remember, you could be saving somebody’s life.

Sincerely,

Caitlyn Fantauzzi

Caitlyn Fantauzzi is a senior majoring in public relations. She works in the Wellness Center and is president of the student organization PHATE.

To submit questions to Hurricane Health Series or to respond to recent entries, email um_newspaper@yahoo.com.

October 31, 2003

Reporters

The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami


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The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.