The Michigan Daily- Friday, March 27, 1992- Page 5
Breaking the cycle of dating violence,
by Gwen Shaffer
Daily Staff Reporter
When she was a junior in college, Pearl
Cleage dated a man who bound her hands and
feet and told her that if he could not have her, no
"I constantly lived in fear. I never knew
when he was going to turn on me," Cleage said.
"He threatened to kill me - I was in a very
Cleage said she stayed in the relationship
even after the battering began because she be-
lieved it was her fault. "I thought I should be
more careful about what I said and did."
The relationship finally ended when Cleage
called her father and asked him to come get her
from school. She ultimately transferred col-
"My father rescued me, but I often think
about women who don't have a father to call.
What do they do?" Cleage asked.
Decades later, Cleage has written several
books which expose violence in relationships
and attempts to help men find other ways of
expressing their anger.
How abuse begins
Although Cleage's situation may seem ex-
treme, it is more common than many people
realize. College-age women often have limited
experience in relationships and may be de-
ceived by the behavior of a potential batterer.
These women may be flattered by the posses-
siveness of intensely jealous and controlling
men, domestic violence counselors say. How-
ever, victims may be confusing control and
jealousy with love.
Rick Liska, a 35-year old former batterer,
said the majority of his relationships have ended
in physical or verbal abuse.
"Between the ages of 16 and 25, women I
went out with thought it was flattering when
men were nverl ieAl-
he had pushed his wife, thrown a pole at her, and
driven recklessly in an attempt to frighten her.
Once in court, Andrew said he did not try to
deny the violence against his wife because he
thought, "I just shook her." However, a proba-
tion officer offered Andrew the choice of 90
days in prison or going through the Alternatives
to Domestic Agression (ADA) program.
ADA seeks to end domestic violence by
changing men's attitudes, beliefs and behaviors
through counseling. Men involved in the pro-
gram participate in group therapy with discus-
sions led by former batterers. The program may
last from nine months to a year.
Like the majority of abusers, Andrew blamed
his behavior on outside factors.
"I blamed the situation on stress, lack of
sleep ... the most classic excuse is male privi-
lege, the attitude that you know better than the
woman," Andrew said.
Andrew said although he is not "pointing
fingers," he realizes how male socialization -
dating back to attending an all-boys school -
played a role in shaping his attitudes toward
"The same ideals that teach men to be ag-
gressive and successful can cross over into
battery," he said. "It is difficult to balance home
life and one's career."
Victims of abuse are also taught attitudes
that prevent them from leaving an abuser. The
messages sent to battered women undermine
their self-images, Issari said.
"Battered women often develop learned help-
lessness. When you try to respond to a situation
and it doesn't help, eventually you stop trying to
correct it," Issari said. "It creates a sense of
Issari said the prevalence of violent images
in the media has "desensitized" people to it.
"We are exposed to violence all of our lives,
making people think it is okay."
South Quad, but
that she is cer-
tain it occurs
"This year, J
have seen more
people trying to
lence than I have
in the past 14
said. "It is defi-
nitely a reflec-
tion of our soci-
v i d
program director, said college women should
be especially aware of violence in relationships.
"I believe the incidence of domestic violence
for women in college is slightly higher than for
the rest of the population," Garvin said.
A survey of Murray State University stu-
dents in Murray, Ky., estimated one of five
college students has been physically attacked
by adating partner. Furthermore, nearly half the
students told the researchers they know a class-
mate who has been the victim of some type of
battery on a date.
However, Leslie Sackett, ADA women's
program coordinator, called the Murray State
figure "surprisingly low." A recent study con-
ducted by University doctoral students found
that 75 percent of University students had expe-
rienced some form of violence in their dating
relationships, Sackett said.
Ann Arbor Police detective Mary Smith said
it is difficult to find statistics on dating violence
because the city ordinance defines domestic
violence as only assault between two people
living together, excluding the majority of col-
11l~l WG1GV V~ly l
ous," Liska said.
coordinator for the T A
Sexual Assault Pre-
vention and Aware-
ness Center, said she
women involved with
* intensely posessive
"This is played out
as the woman's prob-
lem. The man will say
things like, 'Why do
you dress this way?'
or 'Why do you have
this friend?' For INT
women new to rela- Pu
tionships, they may
think this is what it is U
all about," Issari said. geSi
"Women are bound to U S
the stereotype that we
are here for men." P
Battering - gen- Tre
tern of intentional acts
used to gain power and
control over another per-
son -includes both physi-
cal and emotional abuse.
Director of the Domestic
Violence Project Susan McGee
said acts of violence against women
CTICS OF ASSAILANTS
Power and COntrol
what she does,
who she sees
and talks to,
rIM IDAT ION ges
tting her in fear by:
ing looks, actions,
Mures, or loud voices
Putting her down or
making her feel
games. A BUSE
Trying *t keep her
from getting a job. Making
her ask for money.
Policy on Discrimina-
tion and Discriminatory
Conduct does cover dat-
ing violence, but only
instances which occur
Much of the vio-
lence takes place out-
side the residence halls,
often in cars or on the
way home from parties.
However, high levels of
associated with college
do not play a major role
in dating violence,
abuse tends to be more
severe when alcohol is
involved, but in no way
is alcohol what causes
men to be abusive," he
cent arrest rate, while city police have a 51
percent arrest rate."
"North campus is a melting pot - you have
people from other countries, where one spouse
abusing another may be acceptable," Smith
said. 'The University has expressed concern
about violating cultures by forcing ours on
Sackett said she feels DPS officers do not
consider domestic violence a priority. "The
police say it isn't important, it's not an issue.
Maybe it is something they don't understand."
University Department of Public Safety
(DPS) Lt. Jim Smiley said his officers follow
state laws regarding domestic violence and are
regularly briefed on how to be sensitive to the
victim's needs. Smiley said that because DPS
has only been "up and running" for a year, he
could not confirm any statistics, but that he was
unaware of a discrepancy in arrest statistics.
"We have to be certain we are comparing
apples to apples and oranges to oranges," he
said regarding the large difference between city
and University statistics.
Miriam Rosado, assistant director of family
housing, agreed the international makeup of the
residents may have an impact on the rate in
which abuse is reported. "In many cultures,
slapping a wife around is the norm," she said.
Working toward solutions
Currently 14 bills addressing abuse in rela-
tionships and the process by which it is reported
are pending in the Michigan Legislature. While
these bills do not deal with the underlying
causes of abuse, they still may help eradicate it,
"Legislation calls attention to the issue, so it
has a domino effect," Alexander said.
In turn, the bills will shift and broaden the
way relationship violence is defined, Alexander
"There will be an expansion to dating vio-
lence in college, and even high school. Most
women in college who find themselves victim-
ized don't know how to react," Alexander said.
"They let their self-esteem suffer instead of
addressing this behavior as intolerable."
Possibly more important than teaching
women how to protect themselves from an
abusive partner is educating men and changing
sexist attitudes toward women so they won't
Andrew said ADA did this for him. "I real-
ized there is something wrong with the way I
viewed the world. It has been a great course in
Cleage also agreed attitudes reinforce bat-
"Society trains men to be sexist, abusive,
terrible, arrogant people," she said. "A man
who makes a choice not to be that way is
involving himself in a life-long struggle."
Michigan Student Assembly
elections are Monday and Tuesday.
This means we'll all have impor-
tant decisions to make those days.
Such as what to have for lunch.
Don't laugh. The choice
between McDonald's or Taco Bell
means vastly more to the average
Gast and Ede Rennie
testifies to the
university which regularly neglects
students' concerns, we need a
strong student government to voice
these concerns. Unfortunately, we
don't have one.
The problem may be that
students don't know the Assembly
exists. Sure, maybe they know we
have some form of student govern-
ment, but they don't know anyone
in it and they have no idea what it
One could blame the students
for not taking an active interest in
their own government, but that's
unfair. Why should students care?
The Assembly went from being
overly concerned with other
countries to not being overly
concerned about anything.
The question students should be
asking the Assembly is not "What
have you done for me lately?" but
rather "What have you done for me
The people on the Assembly
have an access to University
administrators which few other
Yet this access is not put to use.
One of MSA's favorite pastimes
is passing resolutions about the
Assembly's position on a variety of
issues. These resolutions would be
fine if what they did was set the
Assembly's agenda. Instead, many
of them deal with global issues
which are far beyond MSA's
control. A governing body
shouldn't concern itself with what
it can't control, but rather with
what it can control and, if need be,
The Assembly often wastes time
debating these resolutions, as if the
U.S. Ambassador to Nepal was
waiting for the outcome before
making his next move.
The 24-hour library shows how
ineffective MSA has been. The
extended library hours are great,
and this is the type of issue with
which the Assembly should
concern itself. However, the way
this victory is being championed by
MSA members (or as they call
themselves, representatives) further
demonstrates that a victory is the
exception rather than the rule.
Understand that not all members
of the assembly are like this. I
admire those representatives who
wade through all the bureaucracy
with the hope of leading the
Assembly in the right direction.
Unfortunately, these people are
What we really need is more of
them. At some schools, being a
student representative is a high
honor. Here, it means you have 20
friends who you talked into going
to the polls for you.
Students just don't care about
MSA, which is why the
Assembly's highest priority should
be to make them care. The Assem-
bly needs to find issues that
ordinary students care about, and
then do something about them.
That doesn't mean pass resolu-
tions about international trade
restrictions; it means work toward
improving student life on campus.
ating her like a
vant. Making all
carrying out threats
to hurt her
Making her do sexual
things against her,
will. Treating her
USING like a sex
Making her feel
guilty about the
visitation as a way to
to harass her. viole
Although there is a
general tendency to think
woman would be "too
smart" or "know better"
than to become involved with
physically abusive man -or
at educated men do not use
nce as a means of control -
said battering knows no age,
are increasing as a result of shifts in
societal structure. "Women are gaining
more independence and men are trying to reso-
lidify their control."
Cleage also said she sees violence against
women increasing as the economy worsens.
"Men are unemployed, angry, feeling helpless
and depressed. They don't turn that anger on
their manager at GM, they beat up their wives,"
However, Denise Alexander, executive di-
rector for the Domestic Violence Prevention
and Treatment Board for the state of Michigan,
said she believes the rate of domestic violence
only appears to be increasing because more
people feel comfortable reporting it.
"As awareness of its existence is increasing,
more people are admitting domestic violence,"
she said. "In prior generations, it was taboo to
Although the stigma of domestic violence
has been somewhat lessened, many incidences
* of violence often go unreported. Andrew, a 40-
.. -arM . .:..i...ru...s...im ....wh anti no ,;. w
Source: Domestic Violence Project
Andrew said he feels certain if his wife had
not made the phone call that landed him in
ADA, the violence would have become pro-
Dating violence on campus
Director of University Housing Alan Levy
said that although he is sure dating violence
occurs in residence halls, abuse between boy-
friends and girlfriends are reported "extremely
Incidences may go unreported because col-
lege women do not feel comfortable involving
the authorities, McGee said.
"Every woman fears reaching out for help,
but there are issues particular to college stu-
dents," McGee said. "They fear everyone will
know or that they will be perceived as weak or
stupid for getting into the relationship."
Mary Lou Antieau, South Quad building
director, said she believes a woman living in a
r,~... eha h ilm nid he more mAlling in renn
class, or race barriers.
"We have men in our program who are
faculty and students at U of M," Garvin said.
"Women on campuses always say they would
never get themselves into an abusive relation-
ship, but we don't always know what is going to
happen in the future."
Batterers can be quite charming when they
initially date a woman, Garvin said. Courtship
violence occurs only after the initial dating
stage, when partners are no longer on their best
behavior, and the male feels free to exercise his
"power" over the woman.
"A man enters into the relationships with
tactics that are loving and supportive - a dif-
ferent kind of battery," he said. "He slowly ups
the ante of the level of abuse until he controls
more and more of what goes on with her."
In family housing on North campus, where
half of the 1,700 units are occupied by people
from foreign countries, physical spouse abuse
is reported "fairly frequently," Smith said.
McGee said University nolice fail to arrest