When the problem of domestic violence is considered, attention is often focused on adult relationship issues. However, in recent years an alarming number of student domestic violence cases have been reported. The estimates of domestic violence both in high school and among college students have been increasing. Teens and college students don’t often recognize that domestic violence or abuse comes in four different forms. They are most familiar with the physical violence and sexual abuse but may discount the psychological, mental, verbal and emotional or abuse against personal property and pets. According to the statistics from the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence about one in three high school students have been or will be involved in an abusive relationship. In another survey of both teens and college students, it was found that date rape, another form of domestic abuse, accounted for 67 percent of sexual assaults.
Certain triggers and early warning signs have been identified in people who may find violence as the answer to their problems. Some of the triggers that are more common in teens and college students are stress, the inability to control anger and highly intense relationships which are common in the teen years. There are also groups- and culture-specific issues that contribute to the problem. For instance, in some groups the men may believe that they have the right to control their female partners and that physical aggression is a form of masculinity. Men may also think that they have the right to intimacy irrespective of the female’s decision. In other groups, young men may even believe they’ll lose the respect of their peer group and their girlfriend if they are attentive to their desires. Conversely, some young women may also believe that a lack of attention, support, and respect is normal behavior. They may feel they are responsible for solving the problems in a relationship and if there are problems, it’s their fault. Women may also think that aggressive behavior, jealousy, and possessiveness proves the love of a young man.
In either case, the victim – man or woman – may believe they really don’t deserve anything better. They may see controlling or abusive language and physical aggression as acceptable in other relationships at home and come to think that it is normal in their relationships outside the home. A healthy relationship should make a person feel proud of themselves and not engender lying or cheating to enable the relationship to continue. Researchers have found that while many victims remain legally competent, they continue to need help to get out of a relationship that has gotten out of control. Parents should look for obvious clues that their student or teen is experiencing domestic violence. These may include signs of physical injury, indecision where a teenager was once decisive, changes in mood or personality, the use of drugs or alcohol, pregnancy, emotional outbursts, isolation, truancy, and failing grades in school. While some of these signs may be just acts of rebellion of a teen, they should be entirely investigated before being written off. Without adequate support and information, the teen will be left to deal with an abusive situation alone – a position that most adult women and men find it difficult to handle on their own.
Here’s something you can handle – I need a favor from all the awesome readers! I understand, and I hope you also realize that not everybody learns the same way and that we all process information differently. So I’m reaching out to you – my community – for help because I want all of us to grow together. I want to hear what it takes for you to forgive and how forgiveness feels to you. So if you have any advice that you believe can help someone or have useful information to add, please do let us know in the comments section because each one of us is a teacher and an educator!