Facing Domestic Violence

Katy Powers

At the Grammy Awards in early February, some of the most influential and popular musicians in the industry performed and were recognized for their achievements. Despite the seemingly perfect celebration of the musical art form, a young and prominent couple was conspicuously missing from the ceremony.

Rumors quickly circulated about a physical altercation between 19-year-old R&B singer Chris Brown and his pop star girlfriend, the now-21-year-old Rihanna. Their exposure in the media has revealed the often silent issue of domestic violence as a more realistic and tangible problem in today’s society.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic violence includes any willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault or abusive behavior between those in an intimate relationship or family. It involves one person trying to dominate the other, either physically or psychologically, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

Physical violence occurs when one uses physical force such as hitting, kicking, biting, slapping, strangling or using a weapon to cause injury or even death in a victim. While it is the most obvious danger of domestic violence, it is not the only one.

Non-Physical Abuse

Though cuts and bruises clearly show the marks of physical battery, emotional abuse is still domestic violence and can cause a victim significant psychological distress. The perpetrator creates such a relationship by acting in ways to maintain power and control. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, behavior can come in the form of intimidation, threats to either harm the victim or commit suicide, control over what the victim is allowed to do, mind games and verbal insults. However, emotional manipulation may escalate to more physical abuse.

Healthy Relationships

No one should feel that their physical safety is at risk in a relationship or have the mindset that one deserves the cruel treatment. Several elements should be present in a healthy relationship, according to the Office of Health Promotion. First, both partners should have a mutual respect for one another. This means valuing and treating the other as individuals who have free will. Secondly, one should be able to trust the other person. A lack of trust can make one feel suspicious of the other person and, therefore, create a need to control him or her. Lastly, open communication between both parties is necessary for an honest and balanced relationship.

How to Get Help

Victims should not feel completely helpless if caught in an abusive relationship. The University Counseling Center, located in the Health Services Building, is a resource students can use for individual counseling with a professional for a number of personal issues, including harmful relationships, free of charge. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is also available 24 hours a day, all year round to provide crisis intervention and referrals to state agencies.