When people hear the words domestic violence, images of black eyes, beating and abuse may pop into their heads. Violence Intervention Partners (VIP) and other prevention services at Drake University are trying to change that image.
“Basically with domestic abuse, at the core, it’s abusers trying to gain the power and control over the other person,” said Stacey Granger, a domestic violence advocate with Children and Families of Iowa who supervises VIP. “That’s their main goal.”
Granger said that while domestic abuse or dating violence does include physical harm, it can also take on the forms of emotional and mental abuse. Manipulation, put downs, intense jealousy and isolation are all forms of domestic abuse.
These non-physical forms of domestic violence take shape in ways that demand control by the abuser in a relationship. A list of red flags is posted on the Office for Sexual Violence Response and Healthy Relationship Promotion website.
Instances of abuse include when someone:
- Tries to isolate their partner from family and friends
- Controls where their significant other can go
- Blames their significant other for the treatment they receive
- Takes and withholds money from their significant other
- Threatens to kill themselves if their significant other leaves them
“What it means is one person believing that their needs are more important than their partner’s need or that their rights are always more important than their partner’s rights,” Drake’s Prevention Coordinator Tess Cody said.
For men and women who have experienced domestic violence, their understanding of love and trust can be greatly altered, according to Cody.
“Your perpetrator is someone you’re supposed to know and love the most,” Cody said. “And they’re the one that’s hurting you. So I think in some ways, that can shift your understanding of who you are (and) how you are valued in the world.”
VIP hopes to show people the different faces of domestic violence through its events for Domestic Violence Awareness Week.
“I think often-times people don’t realize that it might be a problem,” VIP member Kevin Kane said. “They think ‘my significant other just has a temper.’ You can kind of justify it when it’s a college relationship or you’re younger. It’s important to get students to understand that it’s a broader issue, and it’s not necessarily something that’s as identifiable as other things.”
VIP has been hosting a different event each day this week.
A speak out against domestic violence was held last night at Mars Café where survivors of domestic violence could share their feelings and experience through poetry.
“What I would like to see is just a space where students can share their experiences and kind of have that camaraderie of recognition,” Kane said. “There are other people who feel this way and feel free enough to express themselves and talk about their issues in a way that’s conducive to healing. I think it can be important for people to have their voices heard in that way and in that medium.”
An interactive art display is up today in the Olmsted Breezeway.
The week wraps up with a panel of experts discussing the issue of domestic violence in Olmsted 312 starting at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.
Kane hopes these events can help students realize that domestic violence is more common than they may believe.
“I think domestic violence is something we don’t necessarily think of as much on a college campus,” Kane said. “But it is a really prevalent issue. Especially in relationships around this time, teenage to early 20s, can be tough and can be tough to see what’s going on, to realize the red flags. It’s just to raise awareness, to say to survivors, ‘We stand with you.’”
While one of the goals of this week is to help students recognize dating abuse, students do not have to read the red flags alone, Kane explained.
“(VIP is) trained in recognizing red flags in abusive relationships,” Kane said. “We’re trained in sexual assault counseling … We’re not just a number you call after something has happened.”
Seeing the red flags in an abusive relationship is just the first step to recovery, Granger said.
“It’s a tough thing to come forward about,” Granger said. “It’s definitely a personal thing. It’s a tough thin anyone’s going through. I think when it comes to reporting, having there be either a case on campus or a criminal case through the police, that is a big decision to make.”
Granger said that confidential advocates are vital for students to process their experiences.
“When you’re first even realizing you’re in an abusive relationship, at that time, you’re not even necessarily thinking about the big picture,” Granger said. “You’re really just wanting to process the relationship.”
Recovery poses unique struggles for victims of domestic violence.
“It’s a lot of self-work,” Cody said. “A lot of a person’s understanding of who they are and they’re understanding of the world has been shaken. It’s a lot of figuring out what is healthy again.”
“I’ve had clients where they’ll say, ‘After I got out of my first abusive relationship, the next (relationship) I went into was probably a very healthy one. But because they weren’t jealous all the time or because they didn’t want to know where I was all the time … I didn’t think they loved me. So I broke up with them.’”
Domestic violence can be a very invisible situation a person goes through. Kane said that is why the events this week are so important.
“People might think these events or these weeks aren’t important because they don’t see it,” Kane said. “But you’re not going to see it. This issue really rocks survivors to the core, whether they show it or not.”
VIP can be contacted at 515-512-2972 to talk to a confidential advocate like Granger. A full list of confidential advocates can be found on the Drake Title IX page: drake.edu/titleix.