Not all relationships are good for both parties. The most prominent unhealthy, and potentially dangerous, relationship for a student to be in is one with intimate partner violence.
The UConn Women’s Center and the Violence Against Women Prevention Program (VAWPP) has launched initiatives that seek to inform the student body about the types of relationship violence.
“The acts of violence don’t have to be physical and can also span emotional abuse as well,” Asadie Walters, VAWPP Ambassador and eight-semester psychological sciences major, said.
According to UConn’s Title IX website, intimate partner violence is defined as “any act of violence or threatened act of violence that occurs between individuals who are involved or have been involved in a sexual, dating, spousal, domestic, or other intimate relationship.”
In their workshops, VAWPP teaches that relationship violence occurs in a cycle. It normally starts with a honeymoon phase where everything is great. From there, something will occur that will cause tension, like access jealousy, which leads to an explosion where the violence occurs. Then the abuser will try and bring things back to the honeymoon stage using emotional manipulation.
According to Walters, there a few major signs that victims or students worried about a friend can look for to identify a violent relationship. The two most common signs are jealousy and isolation. Excessive jealousy towards anyone who interacts with a victim is a common indicator. Normally the jealous partner will overreact to anyone who communicates in any way to their partner. An abuser may also isolate the victim so that they spend minimal time with the other people in their life.
“When we talk about intimate partner violence, we are not talking about a bad relationship,” said Women’s Center Director, Kathleen Holgerson. “We are talking about a pattern of behavior.”
This pattern is what makes the cycle so dangerous and can be what keeps victims trapped in the relationship.
The university and the Women’s Center both offer resources to students on how to identify relationship violence which can be found on the UConn Title IX webpage. Additionally, the Women’s Center offers crisis intervention for victims and can help victims pursue claims through the university or through the police. Students who believe that their friends may be in a violent relationship are encouraged to approach the Women’s Center for help in handling the situation in a manner that is best for the victim.
“We don’t talk about rape and sexual assault in same way that we talk about intimate partner violence,” said Holgerson. For Holgerson and everyone involved in Women’s Center, the goal is make this information as well known to students as possible so they can help whomever needs it.
Students who want to get involved with the Women’s Center or want more information can head to their offices on the fourth floor of the Student Union.