In honor of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Campus Advocacy, Resources & Education (C.A.R.E.) partnered with Student Health Services (SHS) for a successful awareness-raising event: Health C.A.R.E.s About Domestic Violence Day, on Wednesday, Oct. 14.
Domestic violence — also called dating violence or relationship violence — affects more people in our communities than we might know. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one in three women and one in four men experience some form of physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner in their lifetime.
Women between the ages of 18-24 are the demographic group most commonly abused by an intimate partner. And abusive behaviors can impact people of any identity, in all communities: straight or queer; male, female, trans* or gender non-conforming; long-term partners, friends with benefits or hookups.
Domestic/dating violence doesn’t have to be physical to hurt, though. We can define domestic/dating violence (or DV) more broadly as a pattern of abusive behaviors in which one partner seeks to exert power and control over another. With this frame of reference, we can see an even broader scope of unhealthy behaviors as having the potential to cause material, emotional or spiritual harm.
It’s DV when someone puts their partner down, making them feel weak, or stupid, or ugly or unlovable.
It’s DV when someone tries to prevent their partner from seeing friends or family, isolating them in a relationship built around only one partner’s needs.
It’s DV when one partner controls the finances, refuses to allow their partner to work or threatens to cut off access to a car, computer or cell phone that their partner could not afford on their own.
It’s DV when someone shares nude photos that their partner took only for their eyes.
It’s DV when someone coerces or forces their partner to have sex without their willing participation. No matter how often two people have had sex in the past, each partner must be giving their affirmative consent every time, or it’s not sex anymore — it’s sexual assault.
What each of these behaviors has in common is the motive to undermine someone’s personhood or individuality so that the abuser has more power and control within the relationship.
C.A.R.E., Student Health Services and the University of California take DV seriously. UCSB community members — including students, staff, faculty, alumni and visitors — have the right to live free from violence and to seek support services on campus and in the Santa Barbara area at large.
Students can talk to their healthcare providers at SHS about abusive relationships. SHS clinicians can help treat any injuries, make referrals to ongoing mental health support and connect students impacted by DV to the confidential advocates at C.A.R.E.
SHS clinicians can call a C.A.R.E. advocate out to meet with a patient at a healthcare appointment, if that makes seeking support even easier for the patient. Anyone in the UCSB community can also visit C.A.R.E. advocates in the Women’s Center in the Student Resource Building or in C.A.R.E.’s new satellite office in the Isla Vista Gaucho Support Center near Embarcadero Hall. C.A.R.E. takes walk-in appointments, or you can call the 24/7 advocacy line to make an appointment: (805) 893-4613.
C.A.R.E. advocates can coordinate information and support resources for survivors of relationship violence. A C.A.R.E. advocate can help shift a survivor’s class schedule or change their housing accommodations to help them feel safe and secure. Advocates can also support survivors through law enforcement and judicial processes, making sure a survivor’s rights are respected as they make a crime report or attend a court hearing. If a survivor’s abuser is affiliated with UCSB, the survivor can also make a report to the University through the Office of Equal Opportunity and Sexual Harassment / Title IX Compliance, and a C.A.R.E. advocate can go with them to make the complaint and support them through the investigation process.
We hope most readers have lives full of healthy relationships. Even if you do not need to seek these support services for yourself, you can be a part of our #GauchoStrong culture that looks out for everyone in our community!
You can post about Domestic Violence Awareness Month on social media and start a supportive conversation among your friends.
You can also take part in C.A.R.E.’s ongoing education about interpersonal violence. Attend a two-hour C.A.R.E. Connect training to become an ambassador of reliable information about these issues and support options on campus. Or if you’re ready to dive deeper, you can apply to be an intern in C.A.R.E.’s Violence Intervention and Prevention (V.I.P.) program starting in Winter 2016 — it’s a 10-week institute to learn more about the roots on interpersonal violence in our culture, meet with likeminded students and staff and put on your own awareness program on campus.
You can also always speak up and say something if you notice someone struggling in an unhealthy relationship. Check in, let them know you care and support them and if they’re ready for help, you can help them make an appointment or walk with them to Student Health Services or C.A.R.E.
—Lauren Elmore is a C.A.R.E. Advocate with the UCSB Campus Advocacy, Resources & Education (C.A.R.E.) program. Please visit UCSB’s C.A.R.E. website for more information: wgse.sa.ucsb.edu/care/
This article is part of the Daily Nexus regular column “THE DOC IS IN” coordinated by UCSB Alcohol & Drug Program staff. Articles feature information and advice from UCSB Student Health clinicians and other health professionals on and around campus.