Students receive tips on identifying domestic abuse from experts

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In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Baruch College’s Sexual Harassment and Assault Prevention committee hosted an event on Oct. 18 called "Keke, do you love me? Do you know you’re in a toxic relationship?" to raise awareness of abusive relationships.

A panel of six women came to offer their expertise and guidance about the importance of identifying abusive relationships and how to go about it. All of the women worked in different organizations around New York City that provide services to people who are experiencing domestic violence or any sorts of abuse.

These organizations included Womankind, where the staff are bilingual in Asian languages; Day One, an organization that helps people 24 or younger; and the Dominican Women Development Center, in which the staff is bilingual in Spanish.

Dr. Teresa Hurst, interim director of the counseling center and Kristy Perez, director of the SEEK program hosted the event and asked the panelists several questions, such as: How can you tell if you are in an abusive relationship and what do you do if someone you know is being abused?

The panelists said the first sign of abuse in an intimate relationship is generally an attempt at isolation through either villainizing family and friends or making one want to spend less time with their partner. This is a dynamic of power and control, which is followed by an element of fear.

The panelists said that generally, people who are facing domestic violence and other similar kinds of abuse fear making their partners angry, which is a big sign. But many people will deny they are afraid of their partner. The first step in helping someone who is in an abusive relationship would be to break the isolation that the person is experiencing.

The delicate process of helping someone who is being abused became a big topic of discussion. The panelists said it is a good idea not to directly bring up the abuse.

Many victims do not come forward because they feel embarrassed or ashamed. In order to break the isolation, it is better to offer them your time, free of questions or judgment, allowing them to be comfortable enough to open up when ready.

While they might not mention the abuse, offering them time will make them feel like they have someone to go to if they ever feel unsafe. But there are also boundaries when it comes to someone’s relationship, since one cannot make a person’s decision for them. Helping a victim comes with patience.

It is important not to celebrate too much when someone has left their abusive partner. On average, it takes people seven or eight attempts to permanently end their relationship.

People between the ages of 16 and 24 experience domestic violence the most and are the least likely to report it.

There are many forms of abuse: physical, emotional, verbal, sexual, financial, technological, spiritual and medical, among others.

Financial abuse is when a partner is controlling another with money. Technological abuse can come in the form of cyberbullying. Another way to abuse a partner is by doing it spiritually, which means that a partner could use their faith against them or use their faith to make them agree to something they would not normally agree to, such as polygamy. Medical abuse is when a partner is withholding another's medication, which is often seen with transgender people and the elderly.

There is also gaslighting, which is when someone manipulates their significant other into thinking that they are insane. Stalking someone and requesting nude photos are also forms of harassment.

The discussion closed with students asking the women questions about their own experiences with friends who are going through or went through abuse. The panelists reiterated it could take years for someone to leave a partner and that patience is key.

However, it’s important to remember that taking care of yourself is a priority and helping someone directly could create a dangerous situation.

NewsGabrielle HuezoComment