Think about this: would you go on a second date with someone whom on the first date slapped you across the face and called you fat and stupid? I am hoping you answered “no.”
So how is it that one out of every three high school and college students has experienced sexual, physical, verbal or emotional violence within their relationship?
How is it that Alexandra Kogut, a freshman at the State University of New York College at Brockport, was brutally murdered by her boyfriend less than a week ago?
When Alexandra’s family and friends were interviewed they reported that the couple seemed happy, and that “Alexandra said she loved him.”
The sneaky thing about partner violence is that it does not exist in the beginning of the relationship.
We all remember those first dates with the flowers, dinners, movies, compliments and butterflies. Let’s call this Stage 1. Eventually, relationships shift to a more comfortable stage.
The couple may find themselves spending a lot of time together doing “the same old things” — Stage 2. This stage shifts to Stage 3 that includes those times when the partners experience issues with one another.
In healthy relationships, the couple engages in conversation about the issues, and overtime they cycle back to Stage 1 with apologies and renewal of their passion. But if we remember the statistics in the first paragraph (one out of three), we know that not all relationships function within this cycle.
Say the relationship gets to the second stage when they are doing the “same old things” but one partner is beginning to criticize the other, or isolated from their families, pressured into sex, makes the other feel guilty or says degrading comments about their partner and the person he/she cares about.
All of these things can be seen as warning signs of a controlling/abusive relationship. This takes the place of Stage 3 in the previous paragraph, and unfortunately leads to violence; Stage 4.
The first time one person uses violence against the other, it may seem like no big deal at all to the victims.
Some do not define it as violence because their partner just threw something, or didn’t hit or bruise them. After the argument the couple moves to the remorse and blame stage; Stage 5.
This is the last stage before the cycle repeats. This is when the partner apologizes for his/her behavior. “I didn’t mean to, I love you, I promise I will change.”
There the person being abusive will say things like “If you didn’t do that, I wouldn’t have done this” or “this is for your own good” etc.
If the partner is forgiven, the relationship will cycle back to Stage 1, but it is important to remember that each time a relationship hits Stage 4, the degree of violence intensifies.
I want it to be known that no person is immune to interpersonal violence and often times people who are victims do not tell anyone about the abuse because they are afraid, ashamed, unaware of resources, or they may not even recognize that their relationship is not “normal.”
I want victims and survivors to know that they are not alone, this is not their fault, and there are people willing to help. Please know that there are resources on this campus ways you can get involved in ending this kind of violence.