As I promised, there is the essay I wrote for my English course about abusive relationships concentrated within ages 18-22 (that is merely an estimate).
Enjoy and have a wonderful Thursday!!!
It is a classic tale: girl meets boy. Both seem so innocent and so in love. They begin to date and their relationship becomes more and more serious. But something is amiss. When the girl’s friends see them in public, the couple seems happy as can be. However, when the is couple alone the boy chastises the girl, leaving her in tears. He calls her ugly, says she does not look good with makeup on; he displays his insecurity by accusing the girl of cheating even if she has not. He treats her like dirt then tells her that she is the most beautiful woman in his world. And that he is the most wonderful thing that has happened in her life. He isolates her and makes her believe that he is far more important than anyone else, including her family. He builds her confidence up then smashes it because he knows her emotional weaknesses and how to attack them.
This story is not as uncommon as it may seem. In fact, according to healingabusedwomen.com, 1 in 3 women are abused in some way in a relationship and a considerable amount of the male population in the United States is as well. It is a growing problem particularly with such negative influences that young people are exposed to everyday. Eastern Illinois University should raise awareness on the issue of abusive relationships on campus and provide explicit workshops and seminars on how to detect an abusive relationship, how to get out of one and how prevent them. This should be particularly aimed at women who have always been so victimized by both men and other outward pressures such as the media and their subtle messages of what love and relationships should look and be like.
Glamour.com states that, “Nearly 60% of all young women have experienced abuse. 29% of women surveyed said they’d been in an abusive relationship” in the United States alone. Glamour continues explaining that 94% of women have experienced serious emotional abuse. Krysten Wilcoxon writes in her blog lifeglittr about a similar story where there is a fight in the relationship because of differing religious views. At the end of the story she offers helpful advice about how to deal with problems in addition to this along with the warning signs of an abuser that include uncontrolled temper, extreme jealousy, intense fear of abandonment, low self-esteem, unrealistic hopes of the relationship, rushing into the relationship, believing in male supremacy, use of force during sex, if the person is being isolated, threats of violence and poor communication skills to name a few. She also addresses research she has performed on the subject of why women do not leave their unhealthy relationship. The number one reason was that they were or are in love. It can be seriously doubted that a woman could love an abuser as it is more likely that they fear loneliness because their partner has convinced them that no one else would love them.
The main contributor to the horrifying statistics stated earlier would be the popular media including books, movies and fashion advertisements. One such movie would be the Twilight Series, based on the books by Stephanie Meyer, where a young girl named Bella Swan becomes infatuated with the mysterious vampire Edward Cullen. Bella thinks of no one but Edward, obsessing over him and even disregarding her friends to spend time with him. Edward becomes very paranoid about Bella’s best friend Jacob who has recently become a werewolf. He becomes so fixated on Bella’s safety (even when she was in no real danger) that he takes the engine out of her truck so that she cannot go see Jacob. Bella hardly sticks up for her best friend during this period. She later marries Edward, supposedly leaving Jacob forever until he ‘imprints’ (the basic concept of soul mates) on Bella’s half-vampire daughter with Edward named Renesmee. In her article, Relationship Violence in ‘Twilight’ in the website PsychologyToday.com, Wind Goodfriend Ph.D. states that
The popularity of the Twilight series shows just how much attention girls are giving to the examples of lovers displayed in Edward and Bella’s world. To them, Edward represents the troubled soul who is waiting to be tamed by just the right woman; it’s the modern ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ Unfortunately, the course and characteristics of Bella’s relationship with Edward are actually templates for violence and abuse, and Twilight fans may unwittingly model a relationship that is far from healthy.
However jzeal, a blogger on TeenInk.com, who published the article Edward Cullen: Negative Influence on Teens? disagrees when she writes,
Edward Cullen and the Twilight series positively influences both teenage girls and guys by providing an example of a good relationship as well as showing girls that boyfriends do not have to control their entire lives. Edward is the perfect guy, and nobody can be quite like him, but it is perfectly okay to learn a little from him. There is no way that Edward Cullen’s actions can be interpreted as abusive or unhealthy. Saying that a fictional love story is going to send a teenage girl into a depression and ruin her is a bit of an over exaggeration.
I will acknowledge that jzeal has a point but that does not overlook the fact that Edward takes the engine out of Bella’s truck or watches her sleep in order to “protect” her from dangers. Unfortunately, what he does not realize is that the number one danger to Bella is, indeed, Edward. This series is influencing girls to search for the ‘perfect guy’ even if it means enduring an abusive relationship.
In addition to the Twilight Saga being a contributing factor to abusive relationships, it has inspired the writer E. L. James to write a Twilight fan fiction originally called Master of the Universe but later renamed 50 Shades of Grey. 50 Shades now is being sold as a novel world-wide and is acclaimed to be “the fastest selling novel of all time that isn’t Harry Potter” according to Zoe Williams, a blogger for theguardian’s website. On the other hand, 50 Shades has gotten negative yet hilarious reviews which can be found on TheStir.CafeMom’s entertainment website like, “The author makes sex and eroticism as boring as mowing lawns.” –Gary F. Mullins or a personal favorite,
I found myself thinking ‘Twilight, plus some spanking, minus the sparkly vampires.’ Here, I’ll save you all some time (SPOILER ALERT): Once upon a time… I’m Ana. I’m clumsy and naive. I like books. I dig this guy. He couldn’t possibly like me. He’s rich. I wonder if he’s gay? His eyes are gray. Super gray. Intensely gray. Intense AND gray. Serious and gray. Super gray. Dark and gray. [insert 100+ other ways to say ‘gray eyes’ here] I blush. I gasp. He touches me ‘down there.’ I gasp again. He gasps. We both gasp. I blush some more. I gasp some more. I refer to my genitals as ‘down there’ a few more times. I blush some more. Sorry, I mean I ‘flush’ some more. I bite my lip. He gasps a lot more. More gasping. More blushing/flushing. More lip biting. Still more gasping. The end.’ –Ebeth822.
As Ebeth822 stated, that is practically the best summary of the book anyone with a witty mind could think up. But the overall messages of this book similar to Twilight, according to HubPages.com, are “Powerful men who are obsessive and controlling are sexy, women secretly want to be hurt and abusive men can be changed into loving ones, if the woman just sticks with it.” These are all the wrong messages to send to teenagers and young adults and, as a result, more abusive relationships occur because people think that they are romantic. And the people who concentrate their attention most on these types of books and movies range between middle school aged students to college graduates.
However, a broader category that influences abusive relationships is advertisements. Popular advertisements seen every day, including advertisements for clothing or a particular brand are also major contributors to abusive relationships. Jean Kilbourne, a longstanding fighter against stereotypes in advertisements, has performed many seminars about how the fashion and advertisement world is trying to subtly manipulate the viewer into buying their product because they promise results of romantic love, carefree sex and the ultimate popularity among boys (which can also be translated into ‘you becoming a sex symbol’). Of course the viewer can only achieve these things through buying the advertised product. One such advertisement is an old one for Tipalet cigars with a man blowing smoke into a woman’s face with the caption, “Blow in her face and she’ll follow you anywhere.” This advertisement is encouraging abusive relationships by telling the man that the woman would follow you anywhere and become your slave if you only buy the cigars. Another advertisement is a popular Gucci one where a woman up against the wall with her hand pulling down her pants, the top of her chest and up is cut off and her pubic hair is shaved into the Gucci symbol. A man is on his knees before her practically worshipping the symbol. This is sending the message that the woman has become Gucci, that she is a prize to be won or bought buy the man, thus encouraging abuse from males to dominate the Gucci woman. These advertisements, books and movies are all mass produced and petitioning for them to be removed is near to impossible for Eastern. So the question is now what can the campus do?
To prevent abusive relationships on Eastern’s campus, Tim Deters wrote an article in the Daily Eastern Newspaper about the registered student organization Advocating the Rights and Relief of Women which is more simply known as A.R.R.O.W. Founded by Danika Dale in 2011, the new student organization promotes the well-being of women and encourages healthy relationships as well as improving female self-worth. Unfortunately, the newspaper has been the only source of publicity for the organization making it difficult for those who are having troubles with relationships or just with their self-esteem to seek comfort in this association. Besides this club and perhaps the vague Men, Women and Culture course provided academically, there are very few resources available on Eastern’s campus exclusively for women who are dealing with abusive relationships.
As a current student of Eastern and a survivor of an abusive relationship, there should absolutely be more resources available for those dealing with these kinds of relationships. Both Marilyn Best and Debbie Nelson, authors of the online article Organizing College Campuses Against Dating Abuse, agree when they write, “Providing education and training for the entire campus community accomplishes multiple objectives such as increasing awareness about dating abuse, primary prevention of the problem, and outreach to survivors (including those who may not identify themselves as being abused).” This is a great example of what the Eastern campus could do for those who are either stuck in an abusive relationship or just got out of one.
What must be done now is to publicize A.R.R.O.W. more and more on Eastern’s campus. For other schools, seminars should be provided for students from 6th grade to college graduates. It is my firm belief that students in middle and high/grammar schools should be required to attend at least two anti-abuse in relationships conferences provided by their respective school each year. When the students get into college there should be workshops to support students to pursue healthy relationships as well as teach them to notice the red flags in abusive relationships.
Some questions that people may ask about my method of decreasing abusive relationships may include, what happens if the students do not take the seminars seriously? Another question would be why should Eastern be concerned with abusive relationships? In addressing the first question, it will be accurate to say that not all students will take the workshops seriously. But there will be those that would be touched by the message and hopefully spread the word expressed in the seminar.
Eastern should be concerned with the rising problem of abusive relationships because according to a survey conducted by the University of Oregon women who are in the age range of 19 to 29 are the most at risk to be involved in an abusive relationship. When people are around 19 they are entering college or a college environment. With the rising numbers of abusive relationships, Eastern could start one little thing that would make an impact in so many lives.
Eastern Illinois University should raise awareness on the issue of abusive relationships on campus and provide explicit workshops and seminars on how to detect an abusive relationship, how to get out of one and how prevent them. On top of this, increasing publicity on the already active registered student organization A.R.R.O.W., Advocating the Rights and Relief of Women, as a valuable resource for Eastern students besides the counseling center.
Abusive relationships are becoming more and more common from children in middle school all the way to college graduates and even other ages after that. What Eastern needs to do is raise awareness on the problem and educate students on every aspect of abusive relationships including recognizing the warning signs and how to get out of one. Eastern needs to take a stand against this so that the majority of its campus can be free of relationship abuse.
Dale, Danika. “A.R.R.O.W.” Brief description of RSO. Advocating the Rights and Reliefs of Women (A.R.R.O.W.). Kirstin Duffin, n.d. Web. 31 Oct. 2012.
Deters, Tim. “RSO Fights for Women’s Rights, Issues.” Daily Eastern News [Charleston] 29 Oct. 2012: n. pag. Print.
James, E. L. Fifty Shades of Grey. [New York]: Random House Large Print, 2012. Print.
Muntaha, Gharaibeh. “Why Do Jordanian Stay in an Abusive Relationship: Implications for Health and Social Well-Beig.” EBSCOhost (2009): n. pag. EBSCOhost. Web. 30 Oct. 2012.
Twilight Saga. Dir. Bill Condon, David Slade, Catherine Hardwicke, and Chris Weitz. Perf. Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner. Summit Entertainment, 2008. Film.
Wilcoxon, Krysten M. “Two Worlds, One Heart: Can Two Different Religions Exist in a Relationship Harmoniously?” Web log post. Lifeglittr.wordpress.com. WordPress, 2 Oct. 2012. Web. 3 Oct. 2012.