December 8, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 41°F


Commentary: Community must speak against partner abuse

October marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month — a time to raise awareness about this epidemic and renew our commitment to ending it. As a community, we must recognize the real danger of intimate partner violence and accept responsibility to prevent it from occurring.

patty tvaroha

Though most people do not associate college relationships with domestic violence, this is a very relevant issue. Most students have at least one intimate partner throughout their college careers. During this time, more than one-fourth of all college women experience some form of intimate partner violence in these relationships.

Cases like the 2010 University of Virginia homicide of Yeardley Love underscore the reality of dating violence on college campuses. In fact, according to, women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of dating and domestic violence. This makes it more important for college students to become conscious and aware of what domestic violence actually is and know what steps they can take to end the violence.

Despite these alarming statistics, domestic violence on college campuses frequently goes unreported. This is because college students who experience violence at the hands of their intimate partner often do not identify their experience as abuse.

To reduce the instances of domestic violence in campus relationships, it is essential for students to be aware of common behaviors in a potentially abusive relationship. Early warning signs include extreme jealousy, excessive calling or texting, stalking, constant insults or ridicule, telling people what they can or can’t do, financial control, possessive or controlling behavior, making false accusations, pressuring a person for sex and keeping a partner from seeing or talking to family and friends.

Dating and domestic violence are the leading causes of injury for women ages 15 to 44 in the United States. Ideally, intervention interrupts abuse before it occurs. It is imperative that the entire community become empowered and speak out against domestic violence. There are too many cases where a tragedy could have been circumvented if someone intervened before it was too late.

Cady Fontana, who designed the new website logo for the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, speaks at the unveiling event Friday at the Ithaca Youth Bureau. Kevin Campbell/The Ithacan

The good news is every person can take steps to make a difference. Everyday actions can end domestic violence. Individuals can wear a purple ribbon, talk with someone about how domestic violence has impacted their lives, confront friends who make excuses for abusive behaviors, report instances of domestic violence and talk with everyone — straight, gay, bisexual, married, single, teens, grandparents — about their relationships.

However, individuals can also make a statement on a community level by changing their Facebook profile picture to a purple ribbon, donating time or money to support the Advocacy Center and local services for domestic violence victims, and researching the domestic violence or stalking policies at their school or workplace.

For more ideas about how to become involved in the movement to end domestic violence, visit the Tompkins County Go Purple Facebook events page or call the Advocacy Center at 277-3203.

Patty Tvaroha is the community educator for the Advocacy Center in Ithaca. Email her at