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NOTE: You are a Mandatory Reporter and this situation MUST be reported to your supervisor or Title IX Coordinator immediately. You may not offer confidentiality to the student in this case.
Relationship violence is a term used to describe abuse within a relationship that is psychological, emotional, sexual, or physical. Abuse behaviors may include: physical abuse, verbal abuse, name calling, sexual violence, isolation, coercion, harassment, economic control, abusing trust, threats and intimidation, emotional withholding, destruction of property, or self-destructive behavior. Most forms of relationship violence are recognized under the legal and university systems.
Victims may not report this crime for a number of reasons, including: fear of retaliation or increased abuse, isolation from support systems, diminished sense of self-worth, economic inability, commitment to the relationship, self-blame, hope that the abuser will change, or threats made to the victim, children, or pets. A student who is the victim of relationship violence may experience a number of academic challenges, such as: inability to concentrate, emotional trauma, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), physical harm, or an abuser preventing the student from attending class or completing course work.
- Listen to and believe the student.
- Understand the seriousness of all forms of abuse.
- Respect the student's right to make their own decisions.
- Help the student to identify resources such as the Phoenix Center, Student Health Services, and University Police.
- Offer to accompany her/him to a place of support.
- Let the student know the importance of creating a safety plan.
- Let the student know that if the abuser has threatened harm to another person, you may need to report this to University Police.
- Let the student know that if the abuser has harmed any children or harmed her/himself in the presence of children you may be required to report to the police.
- Minimizing abuse that is not physical- all forms of abuse can be traumatic.
- Blaming the student for staying in the relationship- the dynamics of relationship violence are complex and the victim is NEVER at fault for the abuser's behaviors.
- Telling the student something is wrong with her/him if she/he has not left the relationship- this reinforces the abuser's messages of low self-worth.
- Giving advice or pressuring for decisions- the student knows the dynamics of the abusive relationship best and she/he will know what feels safe and what actions may put her/his life in danger.
- Criticizing the abuser instead of the abuser's behavior- this may cause defensiveness in the student.
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