According to the American Bar Association, 28 percent of students on college campuses experience dating violence. But further research from a Justice Department report indicates that only 20 percent of campus sexual assault victims go to police.
Many college students who are victims of abusive relationship struggle finding the right resources to turn to. Some victims find going to a parent, an adult figure or the police intimidating and overwhelming.
The Womens Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (WGSRC) is a student-led organization at Otterbein that provides resources to students who need wellness, relationship, sexuality support and more.
“When victims come to us to talk, we're able to help them come up with a plan for what steps they want to take,” Elizabeth Wells, advocate for the WGSRC said. “We're basically the first steps for resources and support.”
For friends seeking to support friends in abusive relationships, Wells said telling victims to “just leave” is not good advice. Deciding to leave their partners is not an easy process for victims to go through. According to research from the National Domestic Violence Hotline, victims return to their abusive partners an average of seven times before finally leaving them.
The WGSRC also said that it's important to show empathy when listening to victims tell their stories.
“When a victim begins to share their experience out loud, they start understanding it and make certain decisions for themselves,” said Grace Hagan, advocate for the WGSRC.
Relationship abuse is rarely spoken of on college campuses, mainly because it goes unreported and victims are not always aware of the abuse. Students also find it difficult to report the abuse of a friend, because of the potential danger that it may bring.
The WGSRC can assist students in understanding how to support victims of relationship abuse in making the best decisions.