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College women are at higher risk for assault

Some female college students suffer a cycle of abuse and intimidation as silent victims of verbal, physical and sexual assaults, while looking for a way out.

“Young adult women who are victims tolerate violence because it is what they experience in their homes and for them is all they know,” said Jeremy Flowers, prevention specialist at East Texas Crisis Center.

Every year 300,000 intimate partner rapes occur against women 18 and older.

According to Female Violence Prevention, females aged 12 to 24 are at the greatest risk of experiencing violence, rape or sexual assault.

“Many women think they are not experiencing violence because they have not ended up in the hospital,” said Martha Carney, director of client services at East Texas Crisis Center. “What they are really experiencing is the beginning of a cycle of abuse that affects everyone in the family.”

On Jan. 24, 2010, Campus Safety started an investigation, after a female student reported she had been receiving harassment calls. She stated that she started receiving calls from a former classmate. The incident escalated to messages and voice mails with offensive language and distasteful messages.

Alba Hernandez said she also received harassing calls twice a week during the month of January. The messages became more offensive until she finally talked to her parents and reported the incident.

“He called a couple of times just making gross noises and asking me to meet somewhere; I felt scared and afraid when he became really intimidating during his calls,” said Hernandez.

According to the National College’s Women Sexual Victimization Study, in 2008 it was estimated that one of every four college women experience a complete or attempted sexual assault during their college years.

“Abusers demonstrate 70 to 80 percent of their behavior during dating. For this reason, this stage of a relationship is so important,” said Deborah P. Kelley, psychology teacher at Tyler Junior College.

On Oct. 28, 2008, Campus Police responded to a complaint of violence regarding a female student at TJC. The student and her boyfriend were arguing in her vehicle when the altercation became physical. Both individuals were separated after they were found arguing and slapping at each other. Campus Safety is still investigating the incident.

According to the National Crime Victimization Survey, one of three teenagers has experienced violence in a dating relationship. During a sentimental relationship, one partner tries to show power and control over the other using abuse. Violence during dating crosses all racial, economic and social lines. Most victims are young women, who are also at greater risk for serious injury.

“Most abusers increase their violence gradually, manipulating their victims until they escalate to physical abuse, pushing, punching, attacking with weapons and even abusing sexually,” said Carney.

According to a research study of the University of Pennsylvania, domestic violence between women 15 years old to 44 years old is leading to more injuries than those caused by car accidents and gang-related violence combined.

“Sometimes victims do not understand that a violent relationship could be fatal and could lead to tragic consequences,” said Flowers.

According to the East Texas Crisis Center, 120 women were killed in Texas during 2006 by their intimate partner.

Women experience about 4.8 million intimate partner-related physical assaults and rapes every year. Less than 20 percent of battered women sought medical treatment following an injury, according to the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control.

For more information or help, contact a crisis counselor at TJC at (903) 510-2041 or East Texas Crisis Center at (903) 509-2526. East Texas Crisis Center provides shelter, financial help, legal counseling and psychological help.

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