Recent reports of what is classified as domestic battery and assault on campus show this type of violence is still prevalent on college campuses.
A report of assault and two reports of domestic battery were recently included in the SIUE police blotter, as well as one reported domestic disturbance within the past week.
PEACe Coordinator Samantha Dickens said supporting survivors of domestic violence looks different than supporting survivors of sexual assault.
“[For] dating and domestic violence survivors oftentimes, those patterns of behavior in their relationship have become very normal in their lives, as part of their day-to-day, so they may not describe themselves as victims or survivors. That is their life,” Dickens said. “And so supporting them often means saying ‘OK, I’m worried about you and this is why, but I’m here for you if you need me.’ … A lot of it is waiting nonjudgmentally until someone feels ready to leave that person.”
Dickens said college students are particularly vulnerable to dating violence and sexual assault.
“[Age] 18 to 24 is when people usually experience their first victimization of domestic violence, oftentimes sexual assault, stalking. It’s when people who are going to be long-term serial offenders start offending,” Dickens said. “So that age range is just very vulnerable. And then there’s often a greater risk in college than people out in the larger communities.”
Jamie Ball, SIUE’s Title IX Coordinator, said the Title IX administration has responsibility in dealing with the aftermath of such incidents, as well as preventing them in the future.
“If we become aware that one of our students has been affected by domestic or dating violence, any kind of relationship violence, we have some responsibility to try to mitigate the impacts of it, prevent the recurrence, and just generally respond to it as a Title IX issue,” Ball said.
Ball works with students who take many different legal avenues, depending on their situations.
“One of the things I can do is work with a person who’s been affected to identify the appropriate jurisdictional resource, if they want to do that … I also work with students to pursue things like restraining or protective orders through the court system, or develop no contact directives with the university community,” Ball said.
Ball said any kind of violence, including threats of violence, may qualify as abuse.
“I think we are casting a broader net in our understanding of what constitutes abuse in relationships … so it doesn’t always have to result in some kind of physical abuse if there is a pattern of problematic behavior that’s really controlling or very harmful emotionally,” Ball said.
Ball also helps students stay on track academically after surviving an incident.
“I also work with students … on the collateral damage of being in that kind of situation,” Ball said. “Sometimes people are a bit derailed from fully participating in their schedule of academic activities, so finding ways to make up tests, or just mitigate the impacts of that kind of situation if that has been one of the impacts.”
According to SIUE Police Chief Kevin Schmoll, campus police respond to such reports with urgency.
“We respond to them very quickly. Usually if these are currently in progress we’re going to go get there as quickly as we can … We usually send multiple officers to a scene, and these usually occur in housing areas. Officers respond, separate the parties, and then we’re going to interview them separately to get each side of the story,” Schmoll said.
Schmoll said students should call 911 if an assault or instance of domestic battery is in progress.
“If something’s happening now, 911. Contact us, that’s an emergency. We’re here for the safety of our students and our university community,” Schmoll said.
Schmoll also said students can talk to officers before a situation escalates to domestic battery.
“We’re trained in crisis intervention, and we’d be happy to help … Try to talk to somebody before it reaches that point of domestic battery,” Schmoll said.
Rex Jackson, associate director for residence life, said University Housing takes measures to prevent domestic battery and assault.
“In terms of just overall safety security … We meet weekly with the police department, dean of students office, counseling, Title IX, and go through incidents that have been happening on campus to see if there’s patterns so we can kind of figure out how we might interrupt those patterns,” Jackson said.
Jackson offered suggestions as to what precautions students should take while living in campus housing.
“If something is happening, know that there are community resources, campus resources that are not here to judge or put blame on anyone, but to help,” Jackson said.
To contact Title IX, call 650-2333. To call the SIUE police non-emergency line, call 650-3324. Students may make anonymous reports at www.siue.edu/sexual-assault/reporting-an-incident/anonymous-report.shtml.