College dating relationships

Bonnie Harp is a writing and literacy student residing in Indianapolis, IN. She is a dedicated and driven writing student who is eager to apply versatile writing techniques to improving public policy, campaign design and project management. She loves cooking new recipes, going to any live show she can and wine nights with her girlfriends.

When Kira entered college, she had the world at her fingertips. Intelligent, kind and beautiful, she embraced her opportunity to shine, enthusiastically making new friends and memories on campus. It didn’t take long for her vibrant personality to catch the eye of a popular and charismatic young man, and in no time, Kira was swept off of her feet and blinded by love.

Over time, the two became serious. Within six months, Kira had centered her world around her new boyfriend. More months passed and his words and behaviors became demeaning and destructive. If he didn’t know where she was, erratic texts and calls from anonymous numbers would bombard Kira’s phone, eventually isolating her completely from friends and family. She felt scared. She felt alone. Moreover, she thought the downfall of her relationship was her fault.

College is full of pressure and unexpected stressors. Surrounding yourself with healthy and positive relationships can make or break your college experience. Understanding boundaries, consent and constructive communication are essential in the prevention of toxic and abusive relationships.

Eventually, Kira learned the warning signs and characteristics of abusive behavior and was able to identify the undeniable truth: she was a victim of domestic abuse and both her psychological and physical safety were at risk. After seeking help, Kira was empowered by her experiences. She currently stands as Miss New York and has partnered with Safe Haven to raise public awareness and prevention of domestic violence on college campuses.

What is Abuse?

Abusive behaviors in an intimate relationship can be difficult to identify. It’s important for every student to understand that a relationship label does not negate or minimize intimidating and aggressive tactics, although it may help manipulate their tactics. Defined as “a repetitive pattern to maintain power and control an intimate partner through physical harm, intimidation, coercion and control,” relationship abuse can develop over time and manifest in different ways. (NDVH)

How Prevalent is Relationship Violence?

Relationship violence is a rampant epidemic, especially for college-aged women. According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have experienced physical abuse by an intimate partner, and women who are between the ages of 18 and 24 are at the highest risk of such violence.

What are Some Warning Signs of Domestic Abuse?

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