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by: Jill Yashinsky-Wortman and Jill Royston

Building relationships, both with friends and those more romance-based, are an integral part of the college experience.  This is a time for students to discover what they like and dislike both in friends and potential life partners.  In many cases, relationship building is a great growth opportunity and mostly positive experience.  And yes, having a friend by your side while in this process can be both a comfort and confidence booster! Friends are there to ask what is normal in relationships, give advice, and comfort students if relationships do not go quite the way the student hoped.  Most college students will graduate not only with a degree, but also with valuable relationship experience.  Every year, though, Gonzaga receives a small number of reports of violence between dating partners and sometimes even roommates.

Below is a list of resources to aid Gonzaga students who may be struggling with relationship issues:

  • There is a pattern to most domestic violence.  Familiarize yourself with the cycle of domestic violence, and look for warning signs. Visit http://www.domesticviolenceroundtable.org/domestic-violence-cycle.html or http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/domestic-violence/WO00044 for more information.
  • If your student begins to tell you about relationship problems, listen carefully; encourage your student to share his/her concerns. Common signs may include:
    1. Name calling or insults.
    2. Isolating the student from friends, family, or other environments.
    3. Constantly monitoring where the other person is; calling or texting excessively.
    4. Threats or acts of physical harm.

If what you hear is concerning, ask your student directly if his/her significant other has been physically, verbally or emotionally violent.  If the answer is yes, encourage your student to reach out to Residence Life staff, Campus Security, the Student Life Office, or the Counseling Center on campus.

  • If your student calls saying that he/she has been a victim of domestic violence, encourage him/her to get to a safe place and call the police or Campus Security immediately. Students can also call Gonzaga’s SART (Sexual Assault Response Team). Staff and faculty volunteer to serve as members of this team.  The purpose of SART is to help students during the initial time after a crisis and connect them to the Student Life Case Manager who can help them with long term resources.  The SART team is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year by calling 509-313-2222 and requesting to speak to SART.
  • As a parent, you may want to take control of this situation.  Because domestic violence situations are about control, it is very important to allow the person who experienced violence to be in control.  When friends or family try to take over, this may unintentionally re-victimize the person involved.
  • Gonzaga often has open spaces in Residence Halls where students who have experienced significant trauma can move to temporarily or on a more permanent basis if needed.  In most cases, spaces are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week by getting in touch with on call Security, Residence Life, or Student Life.
  • There are a number of things that Gonzaga does to respond to a report of domestic violence.  Both parties are met with separately as soon as possible after the incident occurs.  Domestic violence is a violation of the university’s Ethos Statement and results in a judicial hearing, usually with a Director or Dean level judicial officer.  The university frequently uses communication/contact agreements, documents that prohibit communication and contact between involved parties. When appropriate, sanctions are given to students found responsible for domestic violence.  Sanctions can include anything from counseling to removal from the university at the discretion of the judicial officer. Gonzaga has a legal obligation under Title IX to take action after a report of domestic violence and believes that the actions we take also align with the Jesuit, Catholic and humanistic mission of the institution.
  • Students always have the option of contacting local law enforcement and are encouraged to do so if their safety is in danger.  Law enforcement officials can also help with protective orders through Spokane County if a student feels this is necessary. Gonzaga Security, SART, and Student Life staff are available to help students contact law enforcement if a student would like assistance.
  • The YWCA also runs the Alternatives to Domestic Violence Program (ADVP) in Spokane County.  ADVP supports and advocates for victims who are experiencing abuse and violence in their relationships. The number for their 24-hour help line is 509-326-CALL (326-2255).

Over the past year and a half, Gonzaga has implemented a program called Green Dot.  This nationally recognized program challenges each member of our community to actively work to counter acts of power-based personal violence and make the prevention of further violence a personal priority.  This culture changing program has the goal of capitalizing on the power of peer influence to challenge the current relationship norms and set new norms.  To find out more about Green Dot, visit www.gonzaga.edu/greendot .  If you have questions or concerns about resources for students in unsafe or violent relationships, please call the Student Life Office at 509-313-4100.



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