In the wake of senior Binghamton University nursing student Haley Anderson’s death last Friday, it is important to recognize and understand the signs of domestic violence and how to report an incident.
According to Title IX, “Dating/Domestic violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used to exert power and control over a partner. Dating/Domestic violence can be physical, sexual, emotional, economic or psychological actions or threats of actions that influence another person.”
The Editorial Board reached out to an area expert about domestic violence on college campuses, and although it may seem like the signs of domestic violence are quite obvious, this is not always the case. Domestic violence operates in a cycle that escalates over time — it starts with small, seemingly insignificant events that increasingly worsen. The abuser will usually make a strong effort to alienate the victim from their friends and family in any way they can, and even the people who are closest to the victim might not be able to see there is a potentially dangerous situation. But even though the signs are not always clear, it’s important to recognize them — the person close to you may seem withdrawn, reject invitations to social events and exclusively spend time with their significant other. It’s best to use your common sense and discretion to determine when a situation might be violent.
Once you recognize that your friend or loved one is in a potentially dangerous or violent situation, it can be difficult to determine the best course of action to help them. Some experts suggest talking to the victim privately and expressing your concern and support, but they warn against pressuring the victim into reporting the situation. It’s best to let them know that they have your support and that you’ll be there if and when they decide to seek help or file a report. Although these confrontational situations can be awkward, and it might feel like you’re overstepping boundaries when addressing someone else’s relationship, it’s important to try to look past it and express your concern.
Even though you should talk to a friend or loved one if you suspect a violent situation, it’s imperative to make sure you’re not pushing the victim into reporting anything they’re not comfortable with — they know the relationship better than any outsiders, and if they say it might create a more unsafe situation at a given time, it’s best to trust them. You don’t want the victim to be further alienated from their close friends and family and possibly become more vulnerable to the abuser.
According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, one in three college-age women say they’ve been in an abusive dating relationship. Additionally, according to the 2016 Student Campus Climate Survey, 41.43 percent of respondents reported that they did not know how to report dating violence to the University, and 16.16 percent reported that they were “not sure” how to do so. Given these statistics, BU should offer more guidance and education to students regarding how to report incidents of domestic violence. The University should not only educate students on the signs of domestic violence — the more difficult, important and sometimes frightening part is actually reporting acts of violence. And although not every domestic violence case escalates to such a serious level, BU students must know what to do in order to protect themselves and each other as a united campus community.
In order to seek help for a domestic violence situation, you can call or visit the Crime Victims Assistance Center at (607) 722-4256, the Rise-NY Hotline at (607) 754-4340, the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800) 799-7233 or the University Police emergency hotline at (607) 777-2222. Don’t ignore signs of domestic violence. There is help available, and it is possible to get out of a dangerous situation.