How to help a friend in an unhealthy relationship

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM)!
You might have heard about domestic violence in the news lately, or maybe you’ve seen the color purple around campus and you’re wondering why college students should care about the issue. After all, isn’t domestic violence about families and older adults?
Domestic violence and/or dating abuse includes physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, digital and/or financial abuse. It does not discriminate and can affect people of any gender, race, sexual orientation, religion or economic background.
Despite all the definitions and/or how unrelated it may feel to a reader, we know two things are for certain: No. 1. There is no excuse for abuse, and No. 2. The facts speak for themselves. Here’s why:
* According to the U.S. Department of Justice, “Women 16-24 experience the highest per capita rate of intimate partner violence.”
* 60 percent of acquaintance rapes on college campuses occur in casual or steady dating relationships.
* Approximately 90 percent of victims of sexual assault on college campuses know their attacker according to a Break the Cycle, Inc., report in 2005.
But, what can I do? There is no one-size-fits-all solution, and there are many reasons a person might stay in an abusive relationship. People often wonder why a person doesn’t just leave, when breaking up can be more dangerous than it seems.
If you have friends or family who are in unhealthy or abusive relationships, the most important thing you can do is be supportive and listen to them.
Please try not to judge. Instead, let your friends know that they have options. Invite them to chat with someone in the Gannon University Health and Counseling Center, or extend them the offer to go off campus at SafeNet or the Crime Victim Center.
Even if they decide to stay in the relationship, at least you will be there to help them face the variety of obstacles that often stand in a student’s way to accessing the services such as conflicting emotions, feelings of isolation, fear of their partner or even their parents finding out and taking them out of school.

Your Friends,
The S.A.V.E. A-Team