Young people at high risk for dating violence

When Ariel Hoopes’ previous boyfriend shoved her up against the side of his car after she cut her hair without his permission, she was scared, and with tear-filled eyes said she didn’t realize until months later that she was one of the millions who are victimized daily by dating violence.”He wanted to stomp everything out of me that made me confident,” said Hoopes, a USU sophomore majoring in English teaching. “He would say, ‘You aren’t smart enough, the best you can do is go to community college like me.’ He would have me show him my school work. He would say my teachers lied to me.”Females ranging from age 16-25 report being victims of dating violence more than any other group, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and 80 percent of those effected by dating violence tend to stay with their dating partner. Utah has consistently had rape and sexual abuse statistics well over the national average.This violence is present in Utah, and is present on Utah State’s campus, said Monica Heiner, USU’s Sexual Assault and Anti-Violence Information (SAAVI) coordinator, who saw two new students every week during fall semester about their experiences with dating violence. USU Police records show only one rape and one case of sexual abuse were reported that same semester.To promote April as Sexual Abuse Awareness month, SAAVI is working to bridge the gap between total dating violence incidents that occur on campus and the number reported to their office and local police through events such as Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.

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