Domestic Violence on Campus: How to Spot it and How to Respond

Brianna Lopez, Staff Writer

Domestic violence comes in many forms and can happen anywhere. On the evening of February 22, it occurred on campus on the third floor of Parsons Hall. The boyfriend of a student became upset around 10:30 P.M. when confronted about potentially cheating on his girlfriend, according to a Lacey Police report obtained by The Belltower

The report indicates the 19-year-old male hit his girlfriend and hurt two other female students and one male student who were trying to intervene. Some of the dorm’s Resident Assistants and others became involved, and the police were called. The police report included witness statements from multiple Saint Martin’s students and quoted directly from life-threatening texts and statements the suspect allegedly made to students involved in the conflict. The suspect was arrested on three assault charges and one count of domestic violence, and was taken to Nisqually Jail. The assaults on February 22 are still under investigation.

Domestic violence is a worldwide issue and is something that some are lucky enough to never witness or experience. By definition, domestic abuse is an intimate living relationship where your partner may be physically, emotionally or verbally hurting you. This has a major effect on people that happen to be victims. The difference between this domestic violence incident and many others is the titles that come with the relationship. 

Howard Thronson, Interim Director of Campus Security, was able to shed light on domestic violence and what to do in that situation. The conversation started with how Thronson defines it. Upon first getting to know someone, their true colors may be difficult to see. Thronson stated that when people get into a relationship and each person decides how far the relationship is going to go, “someone always wants more,” he said, “then they become controlling.” 

Many may think there is only one way to define domestic violence and that is if the male in the relationship hits the female. However, domestic violence is an umbrella term with a lot of topics under it. Regarding the crime, it is often assumed the man is the perpetrating party in a case. But this is not always true; in a relationship, either partner could be the offender. It is simply less common to see women hitting their husbands. We also know that there are men who may be abused in their relationships. But due to the stigma and other stereotypes of men having to be stronger and more dominant, their experiences and stories are not told as often. 

Here on campus, there are a lot of things you can do to help someone in a situation like this. This goes for everything in life: if you see something suspicious, tell someone you trust. If you know your friend is involved in a bad relationship, be there for them and refrain from saying things like, “I know how you feel,” because that may not be the case for all people. Saint Martin’s provides training for students about how to help victims as well as how to distract the aggressor. The school has only reported about one domestic violence incident in each recent year, however it is still important to know the warning signs.

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