The Hidden Signs of Abuse in College-Aged Women

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Goodman JFS and the Domestic Abuse program continue to bring awareness and education to our community about domestic abuse, warning signs and red flags.

Partner violence is a pattern of behaviors used by one partner to maintain power and control over another partner in an intimate relationship and is, unfortunately, becoming more prevalent on college campuses day by day. Young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence. However, the number of students reporting abuse in college is still very underrepresented. What’s the reason behind this? A misunderstanding of abuse, and what dating abuse actually looks like. Many students may not consider or define their experience as abuse because there was no physical violence, however, partner violence can occur in different forms including verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, technological, and financial abuse.

According to the National Coalition of Domestic Violence, college-aged women (between the ages of 16-24) have the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence. 21% of college students report having experienced dating violence by a current partner and 32% of college students report experiencing dating violence by a previous partner. Additionally, one in 10 high school and college students have been physically harmed by a significant other.

Awareness can continue to increase by looking for warning signs and red flags in relationships, including:

– Checking cell phones, emails or social networks without permission
– Extreme jealousy or insecurity
– Constant belittling or put-downs
– Explosive temper
– Isolation from family and friends
– Making false accusations
– Constant mood swings towards you
– Physically inflicting pain or hurt in any way
– Possessiveness
– Telling someone what they can and cannot do
– Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex

Another form on abuse is violence and abuse through technology. Due to social media and technology, people can have 24-hour access to each other – increasing stalking or controlling behaviors. Phones, computers, and social networking websites can be used to isolate, punish, and humiliate their partners according to the study, The Abuse of Technology in Domestic Violence’ conducted by Delanie Woodlock. The same study states 46 of the 152 domestic violence advocates surveyed showed technology is often used in intimate partner stalking.

College students are more prone to dating violence because of the role their environment plays in their everyday life. This is explored more in the ‘Boys will be Boys’ study  conducted by researchers from Florida Atlantic University’s College of Education in collaboration with Sacred Heart University. Education is the key to making this demographic more aware of how they’re being treated in their relationships.

At Goodman JFS of Broward, we work directly with many of Broward County’s domestic abuse survivors to address their immediate physical, financial and emotional needs. We provide short and long-term confidential assistance to help domestic abuse survivors and families transition and maintain a healthy and safe life through individual and group therapy, case management and guidance. Our program helps survivors create a safety plan, relocate, and learn necessary self-advocacy and self-sufficiency skills, while empowering each client to and live a healthy lifestyle independent of their abuser.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, please SPEAK UP! We are here to help and available Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. by calling 954-560-8303.