Campus Dating Violence

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“It was just a dispute between students.” –My area dean of students on my abusive relationship

While over the past few years an important national conversation has grown around the experiences and rights of sexual assault survivors on college campuses, there’s been little attention paid to the reality of other forms of campus gender-based violence, particularly those perpetrated by intimate partners. Intimate partner violence (e.g., dating violence, domestic violence, relationship abuse) may include sexual assault but doesn’t always. Often survivors of dating or domestic violence who do suffer rape or other physical violence in the context of their relationships say that it wasn’t the worst part of their abuse. While much anti-violence activism and media coverage tends to assume a “default” DV survivor, anyone — include men and genderqueer people — can and do suffer relationship abuse.

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“Shut up or I’ll kill you.” And then 2 minutes later: “I care more about you than anything in the world. You mean the world to me.” –My abusive then-boyfriend

Title IX protects survivors of all forms of gender-based violence, including rape and sexual assault, but also dating and domestic violence, stalking, and harassment. Survivors of intimate partner violence on college campuses face particular challenges — for instance, their abusers almost always know where they live or have a key to their dorm, are more likely to stalk and harass them during and following the relationship, and have mastered tactics to keep them in (or returning to) the relationship. These survivors may need transportation assistance from their schools to obtain a civil protection order, or may have particular concerns about disclosing abuse at the hands of their partner — someone for whom they love(d) and care(d) — to campus officials, the police, or their friends and family.

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“Maybe you should transfer to another university if you don’t feel safe here.” –Coordinator of the sexual assault program at Michigan State

We’ve compiled the resources below based on our experiences surviving relationship abuse on campus, as well as our work organizing on the ground at our schools. We don’t pretend these resources are exhaustive by any means: Please let us know what we’re missing at knowyourIX[at]gmail[dot]com, share your story with us, or send us your policy recommendations here. We’re particularly interested in hearing about strong policies at non-residential schools, as well as practices to support undocumented and/or married domestic violence survivors on college campuses.

Support a Survivor

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“I don’t think knowing that he’s committed crimes against people — people I love — has terribly changed my liking him.” –Email from a friend

Surviving abuse is hard. Supporting a survivor is often counter-intuitive. The resources below were written BY survivors and their friends, FOR survivors and their friends, based on our lived experiences.

  • Survivors’ Stories (coming soon)

Change Your Campus

So much national attention has focused on sexual assault, that it’s easy to forget that both Title IX and the Clery Act protect survivors of gender-based violence more broadly, including victims of dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking. Learn your rights by checking out the resources below, and push for your school’s policies and practices to be responsive to the needs of a diversity of experiences of violence.

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“A certain amount of such behavior is common in relationships.” –From my school’s official hearing report (in which my abuser/ex is found not guilty)

Take Action

As of October 1, 2014, colleges and universities are required to collect and publicly disclose the number of reports of dating violence, domestic violence, and stalking (in addition to sexual assault) that they received each year in order to comply with the Clery Act. Is your school in compliance? Let us know! Look up your university’s 2014 Clery statistics on their website (often a Google search of your university’s name and “Clery reports” will turn up the data) and tell us what you find here.

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“I would hit you, but my words can hurt you more, you stupid bitch.” –Abusive ex-boyfriend as he cornered me in a kitchen and screamed at me. He confessed to threatening me and to sexually abusing me, but he’s still on campus.

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After months and months of you asking, showing up at my room with condoms, asking why I didn’t love you, I gave in. I never imagined something could hurt so much. That’s RAPE.

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“You fucking whore. You bitch. I’m going to make senior year a living hell for you.” Campus dating violence happens at UNC.

Thank you to the survivors in the photographs above for sharing their stories. Images inspired by Surviving in Numbers, Project Unbreakable, It Happens Here Amherst, and Duke Breaking Out. You can share your own story with Surviving in Numbers here, or with Project Unbreakable here.