In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, End Rape on Campus has teamed up with the One Love Foundation to bring you this piece about relationship violence on college campuses.
When I was in college, unhealthy relationships were everywhere. It was normal for your best friend’s boyfriend to get really angry when he drank and yell at her or start fights. It was funny when you saw that girl crying over her boyfriend again because she was so clingy and didn’t want him doing anything without her. It was actually flattering when your crush would get jealous of your guy friends or ask you to hang out all the time. We didn’t know the difference between what was healthy and what wasn’t because no one was putting a label on these things. There was relatively zero education about what a good relationship consists of, and your idea of #relationshipgoals was based on The Bachelor or Chuck and Blair from Gossip Girls.
What most people don’t know is that 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men will be in an abusive relationship at some point in their life. What’s worse is that nearly half of these people experience relationship abuse for the first time between the ages of 18 and 24 and young women between the ages of 16 to 24 are at 3x greater risk for abuse than the rest of the population. Unhealthy relationships are all around us, whether we realize it or not.
The One Love Foundation was created in 2010 to honor the memory of Yeardley Love, a UVA student-athlete who was beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend just weeks before graduation. Like Yeardley and her friends, many people don’t know how prevalent relationship abuse is and the risks involved. More than half of college students find it difficult to identify dating violence and don’t know how to help a friend in an abusive relationship. That is why One Love was formed with the mission of educating students about unhealthy relationships and empowering them with the tools end abuse in their communities.
Those in college often face unique problems when it comes to relationship abuse. In a college relationship, both partners usually know where the other lives, they are used to spending lots of time together, they have similar friends, they are often without transportation options – the list goes on. Some might argue that having such easy access to one another could make an abusive relationship more dangerous in a college setting. Nevertheless, Title IX coordinators on every campus are responsible for protecting against all forms of gender-based violence like sexual assault, abuse, harassment and stalking. It’s important to understand that regardless of the situation or cause, abuse is never okay. There are resources available at each college, and there are numerous organizations who are dedicated to helping those impacted by relationship abuse.
As a student on a college campus, you have the power to educate those around you about the warning signs of abuse and encourage people to take action in your community. There are lots of ways that you can get involved, especially during DVAM. October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM, for short), and so you have a unique opportunity to leverage the spotlight that is already on abuse all month long. Whether you want to watch Escalation, the award-winning film about relationship abuse and start a conversation on your campus, or share #ThatsNotLove videos on social media to educate about the difference between healthy and unhealthy behaviors, there are lots of ways for you to get involved. No action is too small in the movement to end relationship abuse, and you never know who you could be helping.
To find out more about One Love or join their national movement to end relationship abuse, visit their website www.joinonelove.org.
Serena is the Manager of Digital and Communications at One Love. She is responsible for developing creative marketing strategies for the foundation and spreading awareness about One Love’s movement in the digital realm. She is also responsible for creating content and material for One Love's website, blog, social media channels, and educational programming.