Groups focus on students’ relationships

Nine percent of the students in a 2001 Boynton Health Service survey reported abuse in a relationship.

by Sarah Klaphake

The Aurora Center for Advocacy and Education, the African American Learning Resource Center and the Minnesota Center Against Violence and Abuse are holding events in October, Domestic Violence Awareness Month, to raise awareness about domestic violence.

Juley Fulcher, public policy director for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said because college-age women are the main target of relationship violence, on-campus education is crucial.

“When looking at nationwide studies, we always find that women between ages 16 and 24 have the highest risk numbers,” Fulcher said. “They’re experiencing it at a high rate; they aren’t seeking help; and they are less likely to define that they are in (an abusive relationship).”

Jill Lipski, the Aurora Center’s violence prevention education coordinator, said students lack relationship violence education.

“Most students are not informed enough about the complexities of domestic and relationship violence,” Lipski said.

According to a 2001 Boynton Health Service survey, 9 percent of the surveyed students reported some type of abusive experience in an intimate relationship. Lipski said the number probably understates the problem because many students do not understand what “intimate relationship abuse” means.

“It can be a boyfriend or girlfriend or same-sex partner,” Lipski said.

The random-sample survey is done by mail every three years and is sent to all University students but does not include a definition of “intimate relationship abuse.”

According to Aurora Center data, between 1993 and 2003 the center counseled 1,033 male and female students, numbers that highlight the problem among young people.

Fulcher said the education is also about changing attitudes.

“The domestic violence community is trying Ö to point out that this isn’t just happening to 30-year-old married women,” Fulcher said.

Campus organizations said they see relationship violence problems among students, which is why they are working to spread awareness.

Cedric Bolton, a student personnel worker for the African American Learning Resource Center, is working with the Aurora Center on a presentation for later this month that explains relationship violence issues.

He said he meets many students who experience relationship violence but are afraid to talk about it.

“It’s a serious problem,” Bolton said, “something we need to talk about on campus.”

Lipski said students need to be aware of the “red flags” in dating and relationship violence.

According to an Aurora Center relationship violence information packet, examples of “red flags” include inappropriate comments about bodies, power and control abuse, a quick temper and angry threats.

On Tuesday, Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., announced the University’s Office on Violence Against Women will receive an $800,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Justice for its technical assistance program.

The program, which aims reduce violence against women, will use the grant to increase victim safety and offender responsibility, officials from Coleman’s office said.