Thank you for your interest in The Center for Family Safety and Healing's relationship abuse awareness campaign model for college campuses: “It's Abuse.”
The following is an overview of our campaign – the reasons we created It's Abuse; our campaign goals; how we reach students; and what it takes to have a successful campaign.
If you are interested in bringing the It's Abuse campaign to your school, please contact us for more information!
Why is a campaign needed?
College students are especially at risk for abusive and controlling behaviors in intimate relationships. It happens on campuses across the country:
1 in 4 women in the United States will experience some form of physical abuse by a spouse, former spouse, cohabitating partner, or dating partner at some point in their lives (1)
21% of college students report that having experienced dating violence by a current partner (2)
32% of college students report having experienced dating violence by a former partner (3)
Women ages 16 to 24 experience the highest per capita rate of intimate violence, nearly three times more than any other age group (4)
In 2001, about 85% of victimizations by intimate partners were against women (588,490) and 15% of victimizations were against men (103,220) (5)
In 1994, 37% of all women who sought care in hospital emergency rooms for violence-related injuries were injured by a current or former spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend (6)
During one 6-9 month period 13% of college women were stalked, and 80% of campus stalking victims reported knowing their stalker (7)
Back to Top
What will It's Abuse accomplish?
The goals of the It's Abuse campaign are to:
- Raise awareness among students of the warning signs of physical, verbal, and emotional relationship abuse; it’s all about control;
- Educate students about maintaining healthy relationships now, and throughout their adults lives; it’s all about respect; and
- Generate awareness of campus and community resources for victims (and perpetrators) of relationship abuse.
Back to Top
How will we reach students?
Two key foundational elements of the campaign are an interactive Web site and peer-to-peer communications. During focus groups, college students told us they didn't have time to respond to traditional communication methods. That's why It's Abuse is taking a more innovative, high-tech approach:
The It's Abuse website - www.itsabuse.com – features an interactive, informational section, About Abuse, and a Resource Center customized to reflect your campus and community resources. Additionally, the website allows students to:
- Learn how to find help for themselves or a friend
- Take quizzes to test their relationship and their knowledge of the issue
- Watch video clips based on real survivor stories
- Read about the experiences of their peers [and share their own stories anonymously]
- Get expert answers to questions about abuse
- Participate in an online discussion forum with students from campuses across Ohio
- Learn how to get involved with the campaign
Additional ways to reach students are as unlimited as your imagination, but can include:
- Training for residential advisors
- Workshops for first year students during welcome week
- Customized, wallet-sized resource cards with holders that can be displayed at resource centers or put in bathroom stalls for people to take privately
- A pledge students can sign to show their support
- Posters depicting ‘warning sign’ behavior via illustrated dialogues
- Table tents which can be displayed in dining areas
- It's Abuse T-shirts, canvas totes, and other give-away products to increase campaign visibility and provoke interest on campus
- A wall display which can be signed to show support for the movement
- Booth display at health and student involvement fairs with giveaways, and information about the issue and the campaign
- Engage campus and local businesses in promoting the campaign
- Theatre performances that depict emotional control and other non-physical abusive behaviors and raise awareness of the issue
- A rally featuring local celebrities or a concert featuring a big name act who will support It's Abuse and encourage students to do the same
Back to Top
What does it take to have a successful It's Abuse campaign?
While every school will implement the campaign in the best way for their particular campus, we have found the following elements and steps to be key foundations for a successful student campaign:
Phase I: Lay the Foundations
Pull together an interdisciplinary team from the College/University:
- Suggested areas include: Human Resources, Security, Student Wellness, Student Affairs/Activities Office, Campus Counseling Program, Employee Assistance Program, Legal, and Internal Communications.
Develop a school policy:
- Review current internal policies and procedures.
- Utilize Coalition sample policies to expand or create a relationship violence and abuse policy.
Train staff members to whom students are most likely to reach out to:
- Determine key departments to provide training to first. Suggested departments include: Campus Medical Center, Student Wellness, Counseling Services, Campus Security, Deans Office and other key advisory and disciplinary staff, Student Affairs/Activities, and Student Legal Resources.
Determine the department where the It's Abuse campaign will be 'housed':
- Within this department, identify a staff member to serve as the student campaign’s lead staff coordinator. (In the past, positions such as Director of Student Wellness and Director of Student Affairs have filled this role).
Administer electronic survey to student body:
- Survey questions developed for TCFSH for the It's Abuse campaign are available for use.
- This allows for a base-line of knowledge about student attitudes and experiences to be established. This data can help personalize the issue for the campus, as well as provide useful information when applying for funding.
- This is an opportunity to involve other appropriate resources (example: get students for whom survey development and administration is relevant to help, or engage a department or office on campus that has experience with survey administration).
Submit necessary information for It's Abuse website customization to TCFSH:
- This will include the results of the electronic survey, and a list of campus and community resources for victims (and perpetrators) of relationship abuse.
- Once this is received, TCFSH will customize the site and work with your campus' staff coordinator to familiarize them with the portions of the website they will be able to update, such as the events page.
Phase II: Engage Student Leaders
Recruit a Student Advisory Board:
- Strategies for recruitment may include: hosting a booth at student activity fairs; holding a training or event and inviting participants to join the board; reaching out to students in related departments.
- The Student Advisory Board serves as the driving force for planning the campaign. They can help identify key information hubs on your campus and the best way to take advantage of them; they can organize and staff booths and events; they act as key ambassadors for the campaign.
Identify key student leadership:
- This could be a 'President' and/or other leadership positions within the Student Advisory Board.
- Another successful tactic has been to designate a student employee from the campaign’s home department to be the lead student coordinator for the campaign.
Train Student Advisory Board Members:
- Providing training about the issue of relationship abuse for student leaders empowers them to provide peer-to-peer education, and will make them more comfortable and better able to be involved in initiatives such as training residential counselors, providing workshops for first year students during orientation, and staffing booths. TCFSH can assist you in identifying appropriate experts from your community to conduct student trainings.
- Every fall, TCFSH hosts an It's Abuse Student Leadership Summit, which provides students opportunities to receive continuing education about the issue of relationship abuse as well as effective leadership skills, to network with peer leaders from other campuses, and to reinforce and renew themselves and each other as they continue to work to end relationship abuse.
Phase III: Plan and Implement Campaign
Student Advisory Board and Staff Coordinator plan campaign initiatives and events for the upcoming quarter/semester/year. Suggested campaign initiative goals would be:
- To begin with, focus on raising awareness about the issue and about the campaign. Putting the It's Abuse logo visibly in the campus community provokes the questions "What is abuse and It's Abuse?" and gets students talking and asking questions.
- As awareness increases, focus on growing students' understanding of the issue: Events and initiatives should begin to answer the questions you've provoked about abuse, and give information how students can help address and prevent it.
- Throughout, ensure that campus and community resources for victims (and perpetrators) are promoted.
Back to Top
See the above section on "How will we reach students?" or contact us for more ideas.