Students analyze warning signs of dating abuse

by Staff Writer Melissa Parker

“What are you doing?” Why aren’t you answering my texts?” “Why aren’t you answering my calls?” “Where are you?” “Answer me!” “I miss you.” “I love you.” “I just want to spend time with you.”

Forty-three percent of college women who date experience abusive dating behaviors including physical, sexual, technological, verbal or controlling abuse, according to the 2011 College Dating Violence and Abuse poll.

The study also showed 38 percent of students did not know how to get help if they were victims of dating

violence.

One Place of the Shoals Victims Service Coordinator Leeann Ford said the beginning of a relationship is full of mystery and excitement, but it is also the time to watch for red flags.

“You feel like you’re on top of the world,” she said. “You don’t ever want that feeling to end.”

Sophomore Leslee Tank said her previous partner showed signs of irrational and possessive behavior.

“He never wanted to take blame for anything,” she said. “It was always my fault. Any male contact I had was clearly something to be worried about. My motives were never pure.”

Relationships can shift without either party’s realization, Ford said. One party may call or text several times per day.

Sophomore Mariann Jahraus said texting or calling repeatedly when someone does not answer is inappropriate.

“Having control over who someone hangs out with or what they do is unacceptable,” Jahraus said.

Trey Abernathy, a junior,

said he does not think a person’s partner should control who they speak to or see.

“I don’t really know what would be a normal amount of texting or calling,” he said. “I would just say as long as the person still has time for the other important people in their life, then it would be okay.”

Not allowing alone time, time with strong-minded family or constantly questioning someone’s whereabouts are all red flags, Ford said.

“They pull you away from important stable relationships,” she said.

Jealousy over interests or anything that interferes with personal time is another sign of a possessive relationship, Ford said.

“It’s more about the addictive role of who you are in their life,” she said. “A lot of times those things can look like love, and not be love.”

One Place has staff trained to assist in these situations, she said. Victims are given information and options but are not pressured into doing something they do not want to do.

“When someone comes in here, we sit them down so they actually have a room to talk in privately and confidentially,” she said. “We let them talk about the relationship in the way they want to talk about it.”

Other signs students should look for in potential partners are a history of abusive relationships, unemployment and alcohol or drug abuse, Ford said.

She said students should also be aware of people who try to pressure them into sex.

“If you’re being pressured big time into sex and they say ‘If you loved me, then you’d do this,’ it is a problem,” she said.

If a student feels he or she may be in an abusive relationship Ford suggests compiling important documents and putting them in safe place. Being prepared by having a bag packed and a mental checklist of someone close he or she can call for help is also important, Ford said.

“Having that plan and information is just going to give the person a lot more power and control to feel like they’re making a good decision or an informed decision when they leave,” she said.