Healthy Relationships Week Guides Students to Step Up! Against Dating Violence

By Day’Jah Williams, Staff Writer- 

The Step Up! Against Dating Violence program trained participants on how to identify abusive dating behaviors and educated students on ways to intervene in unhealthy realtionships.

As a part of the Healthy Relationships Week, the hosts, Emily Rosenquist and Megan McKnight guided participants on a discussion about the common issue of dating violence.

Many students in attendance admitted to not knowing “too much” about dating violence.

Rosenquist and McKnight revealed that intimate partner violence impacts one in four women, one in nine men, and one in two transgender people. 

“When we talk about stats, they’re not just numbers. They’re people,” Rosenquist said.

The hosts transitioned the conversation to discuss stalking in relationships. In one year, 6.6 million people are victims are stalking, according to Rosenquist and McKnight. 

“66 percent of female victims and 41 percent of male victims are stalked by an intimate partner,” Rosenquist said. 

The cycle of abuse is reoccurring patterns seen in an abusive relationship, which can involve a friend, family member, or love interest, and usually begins with “tension building” that leads to “an explosion,” and is followed by a honeymoon phase. 

Rosenquist explained how we romanticize the honeymoon phase that we see on television, media, and movies but how “this phase usually fades with time.”

McKnight described how the power and control wheel can explain the methods that abusers use to take power and control of their victims. 

Digital abuse is also becoming more common as 46 percent of people reported stalking behavior online, 34 percent of college students reported experiencing cyber harassment, and 96 percent of teens who experience digital abuse and harassment also experience other types of violence and abuse. 

The hosts then had a question and answer portion to demonstrate correct constructive responses to abusers and victims. 

After a conversation about abusive relationships, Rosenquist and McKnight shifted towards steps that could be taken to help the overall situation. 

“Believe them, believe them, believe them,” McKnight said. 

She explained that it is “entirely validating” for victims to hear this because not only is it “powerful” but when survivors open up, their fear is that they won’t be believed.

Providing a non-judgmental space, listening, helping them talk through everything, validating their experience, and encouraging them are ways to help dating violence survivors. Creating opportunities for self-care such as a movie or a spa day can also help because it gives them an outlet. 

McKnight emphasized the importance of being there regardless if they leave or not because the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is when the victim is leaving or trying to leave.

Students can reach out to the Survivor Advocacy Services, the Counseling Center, or the UTC Police department for help. 

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