by Danniel Zelaya, SafePlace Communications Department Intern
I recently graduated from the University of Texas and can say I’ve met hundreds of people along the way. How could I not with the 50,000 student attendance and with me involved in several student organizations? Some, I was fortunate to get to know and add to my circle of friends. Of those, many who were in relationships were trusting of me and let me know what was going on between them and their partner. Not only did it make me happy to know that they trusted me with personal information, but it also made me glad to know my friends were in love and had, what I thought were, healthy relationships.
This wasn’t always the case though. Several of my friends in relationships weren’t happy because they weren’t being treated right. Not only was I astounded about the fact that they stuck around, but also at how everything seemed to be fine and dandy between the couple from the outside looking in. I would ask my female friends why they stuck around so long and they would answer, “I don’t know,” or “I think he’ll change,” and “it won’t happen again.” These responses worried me, so I asked them if their partner had ever laid a hand on them. They all told me no. That may have been the truth or they may have been lying to protect themselves, their partners or their relationship. They told me that they would leave in an instant if he were to lay a hand on them.
With that being said, it had me think to myself, “Abuse doesn’t always mean it has to be physical or sexual. If one in five women are sexually assaulted in college, I wonder how many women are abused non-physically?” Many of my peers wouldn’t consider themselves being victims of abuse, when in reality they were. Abuse can be emotional, verbal, and psychological as well. I don’t think many of my college peers understand that. If their partner is insulting them, calling them names, and constantly putting them down, that is abuse. There was an instance where one friend’s partner would get mad at her for going out and would constantly accuse her of cheating when she was hanging out with girlfriends. If your partner is telling you when or where you can go out to socialize and is being controlling, that is a form of abuse. I personally think accusing your partner of cheating for going out with friends is an unacceptable behavior. We as humans are social creatures and are not meant to be isolated. On top of that, we’re in college, of course parties are going to be attended and new friends are going to be made! Without trust, there is no relationship. There should be no reason for putting the other down. If both partners aren’t happy, there shouldn’t be a relationship, in my opinion.
As with all forms of abuse, the aftermath of non-physical abuse can be devastating. As a result of the emotional abuse, some of my friends felt like they weren’t worthy of anything and now have low self-esteem. This easily distracted them from their studies because they were so worried about what was going on in their relationship. Students are attending colleges to get an education, so I think students should educate themselves and others of the fact that a hand doesn’t have to be raised in order for it to be considered an abusive relationship.
~ Danniel was an intern in the SafePlace Communications Department for the Summer 2012 semester. He is a student at the University of Texas in the College of Advertising and Public Relations. ~