Starting college means starting a life where your path and direction are unpredictable. The people you meet over the four years you’re on campus will start to shape your life and change you, sometimes for the better, but sometimes for the worst. College relationships are more adult-like than anything one could experience in high school. Sharing the freedoms of being independent with someone else is new territory for most students and can be wonderful, but slightly overwhelming. Now, there are no parents or school counselors to monitor behavior and becoming trapped in an abusive relationship can easily go unrecognized.
An abusive relationship doesn’t have to be one where the victim is getting physically hurt, people can be mentally abused also. Psychological abuse, also known as emotional or mental abuse, is when one person is exposed to behavior that can cause psychological trauma which includes anxiety, chronic depression and even post-traumatic stress disorders.
A victim of mental abuse often cannot see this mistreatment. As the saying goes, love is blind. A victim can be anyone, even yourself. It is easy to say and think that something like this will never happen to you, but again, life in college is unpredictable. In a blink of an eye, anyone could lose their voice and confidence; the consequences of this type of relationship will eventually start to contaminate every aspect of a person’s life.
UNH’s Sexual Harassment and Rape Prevention Program (SHARPP) is a resource on campus that should be utilized by students in need. SHARPP opens its doors to all university students seeking help. Although the name only has sexual harassment and rape in its acronym, they offer so much more. As a confidential resource for survivors of domestic violence (mental and physical), sexual assault and stalking, SHARPP also provides services to people who are worried about a friend. They refer to these students as secondary survivors and bystanders.
SHARPP also promotes consensual sex and what a healthy relationship looks like. Living with friends doesn’t only mean late night snacks and movie nights, sometimes friends can go down dangerous paths and it is important to be able to recognize this. Witnessing a friend become a victim of any sort can put one in a difficult situation. With the help of SHARPP, students can ask questions, get advice and feel supported when dealing with a friend in denial or afraid to get help themselves. SHARPP advises students not to pressure friends into getting professional help and to let them decide what would work for them best.
UNH has this resource to help students. One should never be afraid or think it is “uncool” or “invasive” to get professional help, advice and information. SHARPP is 100 percent confidential, so there is no need to worry that going to SHARPP means someone will find out. This is a resource that should be taken advantage of when one is put in these tough situations, victims and bystanders alike.
Today, SHARPP is holding its open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. right on campus at 2 Pettee Brook lane. We at The New Hampshire strongly encourage you to stop by, especially if you have never attended a SHARPP event. Learning about how to get help is just as important as learning how to be a good friend for someone who needs it. As Wildcats, we need to look out for one another. Sometimes, all you need is a good friend who cares.
For more information about SHARPP you can visit their website www.unh.edu/sharpp or stop by their office located on campus in the Wolff House on 2 Pettee Brook Lane. If you or your friend(s) are in immediate danger, call 911.