Michael Hanowitz, a coordinator at Temple’s Tuttleman Counseling Center, says he thinks that domestic abuse is more common than reported among college students.
Internet blogs and chat rooms were abuzz two weeks ago, after news circulated that 19-year-old R&B singer Chris Brown, was arrested Feb. 8 for allegedly assaulting Rihanna, 20, his pop-star girlfriend.
Brown turned himself into police and was booked on suspicion of making criminal threats.
But domestic violence doesn’t just happen among young adult superstars.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, one in five female high school students report being abused by a dating partner, whether physically, sexually or both.
The National Center for Victims of Crime found 32 percent of college students report experiencing dating violence with a former partner and 21 percent report they experienced violence inflicted by a current partner.
College-age women between 20 and 24 were found to be at the greatest risk of nonfatal intimate partner violence, according to findings of the Bureau of Justice Statistics Crime Data Brief.
The problem crosses racial, ethnic, class and gender lines, and Temple students aren’t immune from this disturbing pattern.
Michael Hanowitz, coordinator of Temple’s Tuttleman Counseling Services’ sexual assault counseling and education program, said the most common forms of abuse are emotional and verbal, followed by physical abuse.
Hanowitz said he thinks dating violence is an under-reported problem on campus.
In order to protect more people from falling victim to this issue, he said, “The key is removing the stigma of being a victim would be a step in the right direction, and education on the issue.”
At Temple, this education is provided at Tuttleman Counseling Center on Liacouras Walk.
A major part of Tuttleman SACE’s mission is to get students to recognize partner violence when they see or experience it.
Too often, victims are reluctant to label certain behaviors as violent, Hanowitz said.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline defines battery as “a behavior that physically harms, arouses fear, prevents a person from doing what they choose to do or forces them to behave in ways they do not want through the use of physical and/or sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation.” Physically abused teens are three times more likely than their non-abused peers to experience violence during college, and the stress victims feel may lead to eating disorders and even contemplation of suicide.
Although Brown and Rihanna’s case is fodder for gossip columnists and Internet bloggers, it has also focused attention on the issue of partner violence and may raise awareness about this often taboo topic.
Lauren Williams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.