Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Opinion: Academic abuse and financial abuse, while less visible, uniquely affect college students

Domestic Violence Awareness Month is the time to discuss the prevalence of abuse on college campuses

Opinion: Academic abuse and financial abuse, while less visible, uniquely affect college students

This Domestic Violence Awareness Month, I am highlighting specific types of abuse that are either unique to college campuses, such as academic abuse, or types of abuse that are more prevalent on college campuses, such as digital abuse, financial abuse and stalking.

This week, I explore both academic and financial abuse, what they look like and what its effects are.

Academic abuse

Perhaps the first things that come to mind is a professor assigning dozens of pages for a paper and hundreds of pages of reading. Maybe we think of having to pull an all-nighter to cram in information for an exam without a study guide.

But academic abuse is more sinister and doesn’t have anything to do with your professor. All students should be aware of how harmful it can be.

Essentially, academic abuse occurs when a perpetrator prevents a victim from receiving an education. According to The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness, academic abuse is characterized as the following behaviors:

  • Preventing you from working on papers or studying for tests
  • Saying you don’t love your partner if you spend time on work instead of spending time together
  • Calling you at all hours, especially before tests and other important academic assignments
  • Blaming you for poor grades
  • Monitoring your behavior during class or taking all of the same classes as you
  • Belittling your academic focus/choice
  • Making fun of you for studying too much

It is important to note that this form of abuse is typically only one example of the types of abuse that a victim might be facing, and generally occurs within a spectrum of violence. This form of abuse really can only be achieved through verbal and emotional manipulation -- forms of abuse in their own right.

Why might a person commit relationship abuse? Like all forms of abuse, it's about power and control. It’s not necessarily about the academics. Perpetrators believe they have the right to control their partners. In the case of academic abuse, perpetrators may be using academics, grades and studies as a way to manipulate their victims.

It’s not hard to picture what the effects of academic abuses are. For example, preventing their partner from studying may impact the victim’s GPA. If the victim’s GPA falls below a certain point, they may lose financial aid and no longer be able to afford to attend their tuition and have to move closer to the perpetrator. Another example of academic abuse is when a perpetrator belittles how much their partner studies. The victim may stop studying and focus more time on the perpetrator.

It is important to note how little information exists on this topic. Most of the existing articles with the words “academic abuse” refer to either workplace bullying in academia or to student-athletes who fudge their grades in order to maintain a GPA high enough to continue to compete.

There are certain red flags that students should be aware of when looking for signs of abuse in their own and their peers’ relationships. The signs for academic abuse should be included in that list of red flags.

Financial abuse

Financial abuse is often an underreported aspect of abuse in general. For college students, the impact can be severe. The forms of financial abuse that college students may face vary.

A form of financial stalking can be using a partner’s ID to track their spending on campus or using their passwords to see where they are spending their money at campus locations.

Additionally, many college students need to work part-time jobs to cover the high costs associated with being at a university. Showing up to their job and causing them to then lose it, preventing them from working and denying them access to their paycheck are all common forms of financial abuse. Guilting partners from going into work and spending time away from the abuser is a form of financial abuse as well.

Financial aid is another arena where financial abuse can manifest. Some scholarships or forms of financial aid come in the forms of checks or cash. Abusers tend to limit or prevent access to these funds as a form of abuse. Like all forms of abuse, neither academic nor financial abuse is the victim’s fault.

If you are being abused or know someone who is being abused, OASIS AU: Office of Advocacy Services for Interpersonal and Sexual Violence is available for consultation Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m to 5 p.m.

Steph Black is a senior in the College of Arts and Science and a columnist for The Eagle.

sblack@theeagleonline.com


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