If you know or suspect a student is in a violent dating relationship:

The way to stop wife abuse is to remove the social permission.

  • Assure her that you believe her story.
  • Tell her that she does not deserve to be hurt nor is she to blame for the abuse, regardless of any argument that preceded the abuse.
  • Do not give advice or judge. Talk with her about options and help her plan how to respond to a crisis.
  • Find out what she wants to do about her relationship and support her no matter what she decides.
  • Allow her to feel the way she does. Let her talk about the caring aspects of the relationship as well. Don't try to diminish her feelings about her boyfriend. Don't criticize her for staying with him, but share information on how abuse increases over time without intervention.
  • Listen to an abuser. Support change in his behavior. Don't be silent or ignore abusive comments about women.
  • Help him understand that he is the only one responsible for the violence even if his girlfriend is responsible for other problems in the relationship. Violence is learned behavior and can be unlearned.
  • Encourage him to seek help in a counselling program for batterers and to contact men's groups working against violence against women. The violence will not stop on its own.

Our ultimate goal is that all people live free of violence. We are all responsible. And if each of us is willing to learn more about the issue and how to respond individually and collectively, there is hope.

A Conceptual Framework for Dealing with Wife-Beating

  1. Freedom from assault is every person's basic right

A woman should not have to earn the right to freedom from assault by being submissive, being a model housekeeper or whatever.

  1. Wife-beating should no longer be defined as a woman's private dilemma

The principle of non-interference in so-called "domestic disputes" leaves a woman unprotected when she experiences violence in her home. Defining wife-beating as a woman's private dilemma leaves her at the mercy of someone who is physically stronger and on whom she is usually financially and emotionally dependent. The community must take the initiative to give her the protection she needs; wife assault must be seen as a public issue not a women's private trouble.

  1. Wife-beating is assault, not interaction gone wrong

When it's defined as an "argument gotten out of hand," the victim gets blamed for provoking the argument. The offender is tacitly given permission to use violence as a way of winning an argument.

  1. It's violence against women, not family violence

If you view wife assault as one form of violence against women, the protection of the victim is your first focus. "Family violence" leads to a focus on interaction, which leads, in turn, to blaming the victim.

  1. It's not a sickness, it's a crime

To call wife-beating a sickness implies that a man is not responsible for his behavior, his violence. A woman should not have to accept responsibility for "nursing" a man through this so-called sickness.

  1. Men beat their wives because they're permitted to and nobody stops them

A violent husband typically feels he has the right to treat his wife as someone he owns; he feels he is entitled to use physical force to control her. This concept of ownership is re-enforced by the lack of protection given to assaulted women: violent husbands quickly learn they can get away with beating their wives. The way to stop wife assault is to remove the social permission.

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