Domestic violence at colleges prevelant

By Ayanna Fernandez, Staff Writer

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, 57 percent of college students have admitted to experiencing a domestic violent relationship and 1 in 3 college women are in an abusive dating relationship.

Michelle Helmerick, manager of Student Support and Advocacy, said domestic violence can come in all shapes and sizes, as well as happen to, and be perpetrated by men and women.

“[Domestic violence] has a lot to do with control and power,” said Helmerick. “It is when one person is taking away control and power from another person.”

According to Helmerick, physical domestic violence is only one form of domestic abuse. Others include verbal abuse, emotional abuse and damaging someone’s property. Even digital harassment is abuse.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline website, 24 people per minute become a victim of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in America. This adds up to about  twelve million people a year.

Helmerick said in the past, Student Support and Advocacy used to look at domestic violence as abuse that was taking place between a man and a woman, usually in a relationship. However, they have shifted gears and are viewing it as intimate partner violence, from dating relationships to roommate relationships.

Senior Seairra Wheatley can think of two reasons why domestic violence is more common among college students versus younger teens and children.

“Maybe it was going on within their regular home life so when they moved away to college and got into a relationship, the behavior was a part of the norm. Or maybe there were too many people around,” said Wheatley. “Being miles away at college gives students the opportunity to be isolated from family and regular friends. A person becomes isolated from those people and [becomes] so busy in their own world of college, too busy to even pick up the phone to call home and say, ‘I need help!’”

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 43 percent of dating college women have reported experienced abusive and violent dating behaviors that range from verbal and physical abuse to sexual abuse.

Helmerick said warning signs include dictating who and when someone can talk to another individual, overseeing what they are doing; schedule monitoring and regulating access to money and resources. The most common warning sign is physical marks or any type of relationship that is outside the norm between two people.

Wheatley said she was shocked when she was thrown into a situation where she was forced to witness a domestic violent situation take place in her home. She was completely unaware of the situation.

“I tried to help but the guy was just too strong, then the next morning the my roommate was laughing as if nothing ever happened,” Wheatley said.

Wheatley said how frustrated she was by the situation.

“I felt like, ‘Why should I try to help you from getting your whole head knocked off, when you’re just going to laugh the next day about it,” said Wheatley. “Of course I’m going to help because you’re my friend and I am concerned about you.”

Helmerick said there are resources available to domestic violence victims other than the police department.

On EWU’s website, under the Domestic and Dating Violence tab, there are some helpful information regarding domestic violence, confidential resources,  local hospitals and shelters that can be of use.

The YWCA of Spokane can be contacted by their website or their 24 hour hotline number 509-326-CALL (2255).

Student Support and Advocacy in the Student Life Office – 509.359.7924, PUB 320

EWU Counselors on campus:  509.359.2366, Martin Hall 225

EWU/Cheney Police (24/7):  509.535.9233

Washington State Domestic Violence 24-hour Hotline 1.800.562.6025

First Call for Help – Suicide (24/7):  509.838.4428

Lutheran Community Services Sexual Assault Crisis Line (24/7):  509.624.7273

Sacred Heart Medical Center 101 W. 8th Avenue, Spokane, 509.474.313

Deaconess Hospital 800 W. 5th Avenue, Spokane, 509.458.5800