Almost everyday, there are students walking around campus who are involved in an abusive relationship and Ohio State has a group to help those students.
It’s Abuse is a peer-to-peer relationship abuse awareness campaign that strives to break the silence about abuse on college campuses, according to the It’s Abuse website.
“After you hear stories from people who have experienced various levels of abuse in relationships and you learn what the different signs of abuse are, you realize that it isn’t just something that happens in movies, but it does affect young people,” said Briana Lynem, an Ohio State alumna and former member of It’s Abuse.
Event coordinator, Brittany Boyd, a third-year in psychology, said she joined for awareness.
“I joined the group because I think it is important to help bring awareness to such a prevalent issue,” Boyd said. “Domestic violence is often something that many people experience but are afraid or embarrassed to speak out about.”
The program not only helps those in abusive relationships but teaches others how to help those in need.
It’s Abuse was piloted at OSU in the 2006-2008 school years and is now present on seven other campuses in Ohio.
Andrea Cambern, a 10TV news anchor, helped start the campaign with The Family Violence Coalition at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.
Cambern was involved in an abusive relationship in college and wanted a way to help women, college age women in particular, avoid the same fate, she said.
“I got involved in a volatile relationship, it was emotionally and physically abusive,” Cambern told The Lantern. “He did everything he could to isolate me from friends and family.”
It’s Abuse works with other groups on campus to create events such as the Women’s Summit, health fairs, powder puff football games and their next event, “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”
“It’s Abuse at OSU is a small group that is really looking to grow and gain more membership on campus,” Lynem said.
The student group is going through some reconstruction as far as members go, but Lynem said it is important to make their message a part of campus.
“Because the students who are there today may not be there tomorrow, we need to make this campaign a part of the culture here at OSU. And one day, we want it woven into the fabric of every university,” said Karen Days, president of The Center for Family Safety and Healing at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, where It’s Abuse was created.
The student group meets every other Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in the Student Wellness Center in the RPAC.
About one in four women will be involved in an abusive relationship, Days said.
“People want to put a face on abuse, so we were thankful that Andrea was willing to come out and say she was abused,” Days said. “When she revealed it, people gasped.”
Twenty-one percent of college students nationwide report dating violence by a current partner, according to the It’s Abuse website.
“Its critical to raise awareness of relationship abuse from ages 16-24,” Days said.
There are two main types of abuse, verbal and physical.
“I had a girl say, ‘I wish he would just hit me, because the bruises will heal faster than the verbal abuse,'” Days said. “Obviously being hit would not be a better solution, but she was trying to explain how the verbal abuse hurt just as much.”
Days said a misconception about someone in an abusive relationship is having marks or bruises on their body.
“Perpetrators will take clothing and leave the woman naked and the woman will stay there until he gets back because they don’t know to call for help,” Days said.
Because it is not easy for those in an abusive relationship to speak up, Cambern said it is important for those around someone who is being abused to say something.
“Friends need to be friends, step up and ask when something doesn’t seem right. It’s up to those in our circle to help us,” Cambern said.
It is also important to remember that help is out there, Days said. Students can visit the Student Wellness Center in the RPAC or call the 24-hour National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE.
“You are writing your life story if you stay in an abusive relationship,” Cambern said. “And it won’t have a good ending.”