Survey finds 16 percent of UNA students experienced intimate partner violence last year

The Campus Climate Survey indicated 16 percent of students surveyed experienced intimate partner violence within the last year. “It was alarming to know that our students are experiencing this type of behavior in their relationships,” said Title IX Coordinator Tammy Jacques.

Results from the Campus Climate Survey indicate about 16 percent of UNA students experienced at least one act of intimate partner violence during the past year.

Intimate partner violence is any physical, sexual or psychological harm by a current or former partner or spouse, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Campus Climate Survey did not address sexual violence in this report.

“It was alarming to know that our students are experiencing this type of behavior in their relationships,” said Title IX Coordinator Tammy Jacques. “This doesn’t include the emotional abuse that could have been happening at the same time.”

Intimate partners include those in dating, married and domestic relationships, Jacques said.

“Intimate partner relationships can be male-female, female-male, but it also can be same-sex,” she said. “I think it’s important for our LGBT students to know that.”

The survey examined participants’ experiences with intimate partner violence using the Safe Dates Physical Violence Victimization Scale. The scale lists 16 acts of physical violence such as slapping, kicking and pushing and asks participants the number of times they experienced that from an intimate partner.

Of the 978 students who took the survey, 157 indicated they experienced at least one act of intimate partner violence during the past year.

The survey listed sixteen acts of physical violence such as slapping, kicking, punching and pushing.

Results indicated the most common act of physical violence was “pushing or shoving.” Seventy-nine of 157 students indicated they experienced this act from an intimate partner in the previous year.

Twenty-five of the 157 students who reported experiencing intimate partner violence also said they had an unwanted sexual experience since becoming a student at UNA, said associate sociology professor Amber Paulk.

The results of the survey show only 4 percent of students who experienced violence sought help or contacted a violence hotline after the incident.

“It is difficult to say why so many students didn’t report,” Paulk said via email. “IPV (intimate partner violence) is one of the most under reported crimes in the U.S. for a variety of reasons. We hope by raising the awareness of the services that UNA offers to assist victims, more students will report and get help.”

SafePlace executive director Rachel Hackworth said many victims often think there are consequences of reporting abuse, or they want to pretend it didn’t happen.

Hackworth said she encourages those who want to escape an abusive relationship to seek help from SafePlace.

“The most dangerous time is when someone is trying to escape the relationship,” she said. “If you’re going to get out of an abusive relationship, don’t tell them you’re leaving. Just go.”

The UNA Title IX department is assembling an Equity Resolution Panel to hear each intimate partner violence case, Jacques said. Faculty and staff members trained on Title IX investigations will make up the panel.

She said two investigators will work on each case. After the panel gathers the evidence, the student chooses how to resolve the situation.

The university can resolve the case based on policy violation charges, she said. Students also have the option to resolve the case based on criminal charges through the police department.

Jacques said she hopes UNA’s on-campus and online HAVEN active bystander training programs educate students.

“I didn’t know any of the statistics about sexual assault we learned in HAVEN,” said freshman Jason Pruitt. “I was surprised at how high they were.”

Freshman Hannah Prince said the HAVEN program was helpful to her.

“It went over stuff that you don’t really think about,” she said.

Students can talk to a counselor privately about their experiences or report the incident through the police department or Title IX, she said. SafePlace also offers counseling and reporting services for students.