Sarah Pohlman

This October marks the 30th anniversary of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and NC State and its organizations continuously make an effort to educate NC State students on the signs of domestic violence by hosting events throughout the month. However, no matter how many events NC State has and will host, many students are still unaware of the many warning signs and prevalence of domestic violence on college campuses.

The Department of Justice defines domestic violence as, “a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship that is used by one partner to gain or maintain power and control over another intimate partner.” This abusive behavior can be physical but also includes sexual, psychological and economic abuse.

When asked about signs of domestic abuse, most college students respond with noticing cuts or bruises as a pivotal sign of abuse, but NC State’s Violence Prevention and Threat Management explains that warning signs of domestic violence are not always physical. Having a partner repeatedly accuse you of seeing or flirting with other people, being criticized or humiliated by a partner, and constant questioning about your actions and activities are all signs of domestic violence. 

“I think a lot more people are aware of the physical abuse than the emotional just because the emotional is hard to see and people don’t realize that it’s actually happening,” said Savannah Russell, a second-year studying communication.

Unbeknownst to you, domestic violence can be affecting your friends, roommates or classmates. Domestic violence affects all demographics no matter the gender, race, age or sexual orientation of the individuals, and college students make up a large portion of domestic and dating violence victims.

Both men and women between the ages of 18 to 24 are at the greatest risk of experiencing domestic violence. According to National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 21 percent of college students report having experienced dating violence by a current partner, and 32 percent experienced dating violence by a previous partner.

Many victims of domestic violence do not report their abuse, and only 34 percent of people who are injured by intimate partners receive medical care for their injuries according to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. “They [victims of physical and emotional abuse] think there’s nothing wrong with this when there actually is,” Russell said.

Fear of judgment from others is a main factor for victims not seeking help for their abuse, so it is important to be understanding and sympathetic of the victim’s hardship.

Overall, college students lack knowledge of the symptoms of domestic violence, but there is not a lack of educational opportunities on campus to learn more about this subject. The Women’s Center, the Counseling Center and the GLBT Center all have resources that are useful to educate students and help assess potential abusive situations.

Take advantage of the events on NC State’s campus this month like IPV in GLBT community or DV in South Asian Community, which will focus on intimate partner violence and domestic violence in certain communities. Other events include Supporting Survivors 101, which will give necessary information on how to encourage and advocate those affected by domestic violence.

All of these events can educate you on domestic violence so you can notice any abusive patterns occurring in yours and others’ relationships. Be aware of all potential indicators of domestic violence — not only physical — and look out for the safety of yourself and others. Domestic violence is never the victim’s fault, but we cannot help victims if we remain unaware of its signs.