October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month and it is important that the community knows the facts as well as how to reach out for help.
“Domestic violence does not discriminate,” said Sandra Alfaro-Beltran, staff psychologist and outreach coordinator for Counseling and Psychological Services on campus. “No matter the age, economic level or gender, domestic abuse occurs in any type of relationship and every situation is different for each person.”
Each year approximately 2.3 million people experience some form of domestic violence or abuse by their intimate partner, according to the United States Department of Justice.
On a global scale, over 10 million men and women experience domestic violence in an intimate relationship.
Domestic violence, also known as intimate partner violence, is abusive or aggressive behavior within an intimate relationship, typically involving the abuse of a spouse or intimate partner.
Physical abuse is the most obvious form, but other forms of domestic violence exist including emotional, social, financial, digital, sexual and spiritual abuse.
One in 4 women and 1 in 7 men aged 18 or older in the United States has been a victim of domestic violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
More than half of college students who report intimate partner violence say that it occurred during relationships in college, while 38% of college students said they would not know how to get help if they were in an abusive relationship, according to the National Domestic Hotline.
Dr. Alfaro-Beltran said the CAPS office is a resource, and its therapists take seriously students’ safety and confidentiality.
“We provide students with counseling and therapy sessions in a one-on-one setting,” Alfaro-Beltran said. “In cases of domestic violence, we work with students to help them create a safety plan, such as finding alternative ways to get to school or having Campus Safety walk them to and from class.”
CAPS office, located at 2215 E Street. Appointments should be made with a week in advance. CAPS services are free with the La Verne student insurance, which covers all undergraduate students. Individual sessions are $20 for all other ULV students.
“The abuser in a domestic violence relationship can use many tactics to manipulate their intimate partner,” Alfaro-Beltran said.
“Establishing dominance, intimidation, humiliation and isolation are all ways in which these types of toxic relationships can start. They want to instill fear in their partners so that they feel superior.”
Women between the ages of 18 and 24 are statistically at a higher risk of being abused by an intimate partner, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
Loretta Rahmani, chief student affairs officer, said that harassment, assault and stalking, with domestic abuse, all fall under Title IX, the federal law that prohibits gender discrimination in education.
“Our care team consists of a case manager, therapists, counselors and even sources outside of campus that we work closely with,” Rahmani said. “House of Ruth and Project Sister are two places we recommend students to also reach out to in order to get the most help they can.”
Students can report this illegal behavior to the Title IX office, though Rahmani said Title IX reports set off an investigation so the process is not confidential.
House of Ruth prevention educator Alejandra Becerril said domestic violence essentially comes down to power and control.
“In most cases, the perpetrators … are insecure about themselves and they take it out on their intimate partners by controlling them and making them feel inferior,” Becerril said.
She said she often sees three phases in an abusive relationships.
“The honeymoon phase (when) the perpetrator may make many false promises to their partner,” Becerril said. “As the relationship progresses, … the tension building phase grows bigger. This is where the victim may try to please the abuser and become very careful with what they say.. to not get the abuser angry or flustered. The explosion face is where ultimately any form of abuse is constant and repetitive. The abuse also gets more violent as time goes on.”
A victim may return back to their abuser numerous times before leaving, Becerril said.
“The reasons why a victim will return can vary in every situation. Sometimes it’s because of financial support, which occurs in 99% of all domestic violence cases,” Becerril said. “Other times it’s because of their children or manipulation from the abuser to the victim.”
There are various warning signs to look out for including extreme jealousy, controlling behavior, and possessiveness.
“Society has placed this idea in our heads that jealousy is just a way of an intimate partner showing that they care about you and who you affiliate with when that’s not how it works at all,” Becerril said. “You yourself are an individual and have a right to do what you want.”
If the abuser blames drugs or alcohol for their repetitive violent behavior, that can also be an early sign of an abusive relationship, Becerril said.
Becerril recommends to take a cautious but direct approach if you are helping someone who is in a domestic violence relationship and strive to mostly listen to the victim.
“You don’t want to question them as to why they have not left their partner, because it can come off as judgmental,” Becerril said. “You also do not want to make the victim feel as if it is their fault that they’re being mistreated.”
Keep in mind that the victim is coming from a place of being controlled, Becerril said.
“Instead of telling the victim that they have to go see a therapist or that they need help, offer them options and provide a hot line,” she said. “Most of all, be in a safe and comfortable environment for the victim to talk to you and really listen to what they have to say.”
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship:
• CAPS, at 2215 E Street, has crisis hours from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and from 10 p.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
For an appointment, call 909-448-4105; for after hours crises, call 909-448-4650.
• House of Ruth at 599 N Main St, Pomona, for 24-hours crisis hot line, call 909-988-5559.
• To make a Title IX report, call Loretta Rahmani at 909-448-4053 or 909-448-4050.
To submit an incident report anonymously, you can visit the La Verne website at laverne.edu/title-ix/file-complaint.
Alondra Campos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.