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Coalition wants to make students aware of different kinds of violence

A new survey finds that nearly three-quarters of OSU students know some one who has experienced an abusive relationship. The Columbus Coalition Against Family Violence and several central Ohio colleges are using the results to make students aware of the different kinds of relationship violence. The campaign is called It's Abuse. WOSU spoke with women students at Ohio State to find out how prevalent relationship abuse is among their peers. This report includes offensive language.

"No, there's really no violence against women in my peer group," Marissa Tom said.

Marissa Tom, from Dublin, a 21-year-old Ohio State student. On this day Marissa's answer was a common one. But a 2006 survey of seven-thousand Ohio State students found 73 percent knew someone who had experienced some kind of abuse by a partner.

And in that survey abuse was not limited to violence. It included verbal and emotional abuse.

Ami Bonomi is an associate professor in Human Development and Family Science at Ohio State. Bonomi recently completed a study in Seattle that found emotional abuse that occurs over months...abuse like name-calling, put downs and stalking, significantly affects women's health, causing higher rates of severe depression and social isolation.

"Some people might say, Oh, is it so bad that I'm just calling my wife a bitch?' Well, yes, it is. We found that in our study that experiencing verbal abuse alone or controlling behavior alone did significantly erode women's health," Bonomi said.

And some women may not realize name-calling is considered a form of abuse. Kaitlin Leddy an OSU freshman from Texas said she does not know of any friends who have been physically abused. But she said name-calling is common even among friends.

"Some of my friends sometimes jokingly say Oh, you're a skank.' (or) You're a slut.' And even though they don't mean it sometimes it can be really hurtful," Leddy said.

Christian Lloyd and Joni Barnett are Ohio State freshmen and friends from Piqua about 30 miles north of Dayton. Lloyd said in their town relationship violence is not common. Barnett agrees.

"From where we're from it's not really an issue. I'm sure there's some underlying things that we don't know about, but for the most part it's not a big issue," Barnett said.

Both women said they would tell their parents and friends if they found themselves in an abusive relationship.

A 21 year old student from Michigan said she's been abused. And she explains why she thinks it's hard for women to leave a dangerous relationship.

"I've been disrespected as a woman before, verbally, and also physically. And I know some of my friends have too. And it should be obvious that if you're in a bad situation you want to get out of it. But sometimes girls are scared and they get unfair and unwanted pressure by men and sometimes it's hard to get out of it," she said.

And Natalie Helmrich, an 18-year-old from Cincinnati agrees. While Helmrich said she has not been in an abusive relationship, a friend of hers has. While Helmrich said she has not been in an abusive relationship, a friend of hers has.

"I guess she was camping and there was some sort of sexual abuse type thing and she just tried to ignore it and try to get away without too much of a hassle," Helmrich said.

Professor Bonomi said she can not say if abuse against women is increasing. She said that's because most studies primarily are done by phone or mail.

"Because of the methological limitations of studies that have been done thus far it's difficult to say whether violent rates are increasing. However what we do know is that violence is a prevalent, common problem in women," Bonomi said.

The Bureau of Justice Statistics says women between 16 and 24 years of age experience the highest per capita rates of relationship violence. The Coalition hopes the campaign will encourage students who have been abused to come forward and seek help.