October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. 

Domestic violence includes behavior that physically harms, arouses fear, prevents a partner from doing what they wish or forces them to behave in ways they do not want. It includes the use of physical and sexual violence, threats and intimidation, emotional abuse and economic deprivation. Many of these different forms of domestic violence/abuse can be occurring at any one time within the same intimate relationship.

The American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment (ACHA NCHA) survey in 2017 revealed the following information about Hope College students:

  • 11.2% were sexually touched without consent
  • 3.2% were victims of stalking
  • 8.4% were in emotionally abusive relationships
  • 0.9% were in physically abusive relationships 
  • 2.1% were in sexually abusive relationships
  • 9% identified that their academics were impacted by relationship difficulties

We pressed pause to dive deeper into this concept of intimate partner violence by interviewing Hope College’s Victim Advocate and Prevention Educator, Christian Gibson. Here’s what she had to say:

Why is Domestic Violence Awareness relevant to Hope students?

“This is a great question. I think often what happens when we hear terms like ‘domestic violence,’ our minds jump to the news, or statistics, or even scenes in movies that we’ve seen that showcase a man beating up his wife or girlfriend.  While this isn’t necessarily a bad thing (and this kind of violence is real), it can be our way of distancing ourselves from the issue. In my time working with college-age students, I have found that the more education students have received about the relationship spectrum and what healthy relationships actually look like, the more awake they are to how close they are to the issue. We all have loved ones that have been a part of unhealthy or even abusive relationships, and we all want to be a part of relationships that are healthy, fun and lifegiving.”

What does domestic violence look like in college-aged relationships? 

“I often refer students to the College Power and Control Wheel to help them identify whether or not their relationship may have an imbalance of power  and control, and how that control can play out in the college context. Working with students at Hope, I have observed that a lot of unhealthy dynamics come from a fear of confrontation, particularly in-person confrontation. Our phones and social media have made it increasingly easy to avoid hard conversations and build skills that can lead to honesty and vulnerability, two key components of healthy relationships! To that end, it is important that students press pause emotionally before responding to something difficult over text, take a deep breath and hit ‘call’ instead. Or better yet, offer to meet up in person!”

Below we have listed some resources regarding domestic violence and sexual assault. Whether you are in need of help now or simply want to increase your awareness, we want you to know that you are not alone. The abuse is not and will never be your fault. There is help here at Hope College and in the Holland Community. 

Resources at Hope College:

  • Christian Gibson, Victim Advocate
  • Sara Dorer, Title IX Coordinator
  • Counseling and Psychological Services
  • Campus Ministries
  • Campus Safety

Resources in the Holland Community:

  • Resilience
  • YWCA

Resources online: 

  • One Love Foundation
  • Love is Respect
  • MaleSurvivor
  • No More
  • 1 in 6

On Domestic Violence:

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233


  • No Visible Bruises – What We Don’t Know About Domestic Violence Can Kill Us by Rachel Louise Snyder
  • Goodbye, Sweet Girl – A Story of Domestic Violence and Survival by Kelly Sundberg
  • Leaving Dorian – A Memoir of Hope by Linda Dynel
  • The House on Sunset – A Memoir by Sarafina Bianco

Movies/TV Shows:

  • Big Little Lies (HBO Series)
  • ‘Til Death Do Us Part (2017, PG-13)
  • Reviving Ophelia (2010, TV-14)
  • Surviving R. Kelly (2018)





On Sexual Assault:

Sexual assault is any type of sexual activity or contact, including rape, that happens without your consent. Sexual assault can include non-contact activities, such as someone “flashing” you (exposing themselves to you) or forcing you to look at sexual images.

National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673


  • Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture by Roxane Gay
  • Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture – and What We Can Do about It by Kate Harding
  • Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence by Lisa Factora-Borchers
  • Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus by Vanessa Grigoriadis
  • We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out by Annie E. Clark & Andre L. Pino

Movies/TV Shows:

  • Unbelievable (2019)
  • The Hunting Ground (2015)
  • Audrie and Daisy
  • Anita: Speaking Truth to Power
  • I Am Evidence






Have a question you want to ask about Domestic Violence Awareness or a topic you want to suggest? Email us at presspause@hope.edu.

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