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Abusive relationships in college culture

Students learn about domestic abuse on campus

November 9, 2009

Statistics have shown that one in every three women and one in every seven men will eventually find themselves in an abusive relationship, and many of those victims are of college age.

Iowa Central Community College wants to make sure that as many of their students and graduates as possible do not land among those statistics at some point in their lives, and in doing so, partnered with the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center to present "Surviving the College Culture: What you need to know about dating violence and sexual assault," an informative session for students to learn the facts and warning signs of abusive relationships.

"You are at an age now where you're starting serious dating relationships where you're looking at the years ahead and not just tomorrow," Susan Rutz, community educator for D/SAOC, said to the hundreds of Iowa Central students who packed Decker Auditorium for the presentation Thursday evening.

Article Photos

Susan Rutz, with the Domestic/Sexual Assault Outreach Center, speaks to a group of Iowa Central Community College students Thursday evening about identifying abusive relationships and avoiding domestic violence. At left is, Anna Shenton, an RN at Trinity Regional Medical who works with sexual assault victims, and Jami Davis, center, who also with D/SAOC. Attending the session was mandatory for all student athletes at the school.

During the presentation, students heard from Rutz on the topics of abusive relationship characteristics, what defines sexual assault, the confusing concepts of today's college culture, what to do if they have or know someone who has experienced domestic violence, and how they can protect themselves and stay safe. Anna Shenton, a registered nurse and forensic nurse examiner at Trinity Regional Medical Center, also spoke about the procedures taken when an assault victim comes to the hospital.

"Once a victim comes to the hospital, they won't be left alone," Shenton said. "There will be a nurse or a D/SAOC advocate with them at all times. A lot of people are worried about the cost of the care, but the Crime Victims Division pays for it so they don't have to worry about the expense."

Students also learned about the "red flags" that might indicate that they need to get out of a relationship before it goes bad.

"Think about these because you know what abuse looks like," said Rutz. "If you can't go out with the girls or guys alone, that's a red flag. If there constantly calling or texting to know what you're doing, that is a red flag. People can stalk you through texting. If your partner has unrealistic expectations or you're constantly having to apologize for their actions, those are also red flags."

"This is something to think about because it could happen to anyone here on either end, guy or girl," Rutz said. "We're here because this happens in Fort Dodge, and some have been Iowa Central students. People being assaulted are in your age range. No one would get into a relationship knowing they're going to get hit."

"We don't believe anyone should ever be isolated or hurt," said Jami Davis, a D/SAOC advocate.

Contact Emilie Nelson at (515)573-2141 or



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