Dear Grinnell Advocates,
I am sure you are a wonderful organization, and I wholeheartedly respect and support your mission on this campus. The recent posters about dating violence signal your increased presence on campus and indicate that you are a resource. Unfortunately, there is nothing else worthy of praise about these posters, in my mind.
The first time I stopped and read the thread of text messages portrayed as a dating abuse I only found myself puzzled. Is this thread annoying? Could be. Is it a “red flag”? Could be. Is it also a minor issue that could be resolved in two text messages? Yes. Could it also be a result of a misunderstanding? Yes.
I have been to hell and back through an abusive relationship. And it wasn’t that sugary “Honey, I just miss you, I want to talk to you.” Is the poster like that for the lack of better prompts? Can I please share with you the realities of dating abuse conversations? Because maybe if we stopped portraying dating violence as this sweetened, clingy texting, but actually showed it as an excruciating experience of being loved, hated, controlled and nurtured at the same time, people would stop dismissing unhealthy relationships as a minor personal problem left to an individual to deal with and realize that it is no less painful than all the other types of abuse. When I was going through my experience, you couldn’t help. I didn’t know Grinnell Advocates could help me. And I didn’t even reach out because there is that feeling that with the entire buzz about Title IX, unhealthy relationships are not serious/harmful/damaging enough to raise your voice. I didn’t go to anybody because I thought dating violence is not enough of an issue to bug people busy dealing with real problems, you know. Society tends to dismiss unhealthy relationships as this “teenage girl” problem. To break this attitude, you have to be harsh. Much more harsh and realistic than “Honey, I just miss you, I want to talk to you.”
I have been to hell and back through an abusive relationship. And when I was there, in that position of helplessness, I didn’t need somebody to tell me there was a problem. I knew it—I knew something was wrong, I knew the relationship was harming me. I don’t and I didn’t need some poster to tell me there was an issue. So, what? I wanted advice on how to regain control, on how to get out of the trap, on how to gather strength and run away. Well, after several months of it, I found the answers the hard way. And I just wish that for somebody out there who is struggling with a similar experience, a) it wouldn’t take so long because somebody would actually pay attention and b) somebody would give them advice on how to confront the problem. You can’t have a manual on how to quit an abusive relationship, but some generic suggestions would have been appreciated back when I was utterly distressed.
I am sure you are a wonderful organization, and I wholeheartedly respect and support your mission on this campus, but I have to critique you because I can’t stand the idea of a similar experience happening to somebody else out there. Ultimately, I am grateful that you’re presenting yourself as a resource, but I am unforgiving that you have failed to change anything with your posters.
—Anastasiia Morozova ’18