The UWT Confidential Advocate offers support for students experiencing abuse

Students experiencing relationship abuse can receive safe and confidential support through the Confidential Advocate and other resources, on and off campus.

Content Warning: This article discusses relationship abuse in the form of intimate partner violence and domestic violence. The Ledger acknowledges there are many reasons why an individual may be hesitant to seek help in situations of abuse. 
Photo by Domestic Abuse Intervention Project | A wheel showing how abusive relationships are made and controlled.

In a study of college students across the nation, The National Domestic Violence Hotline found that “57% of college students who report experiencing dating violence and abuse said it occurred in college.” 

Here at UWT, confidential and specialized support services are available for students experiencing abuse.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline reports that more than 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the US have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner in their lifetime. The National Center Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) reports LGBTQ+ individuals experience domestic violence or intimate partner violence at equal or greater rates as heterosexual survivors. 

The UWT Confidential Advocate is available to support students seeking help or guidance with domestic or intimate partner violence. The UWT Confidential Advocate, a service of the UWT Office of Student Affairs, helps students identify, process, safety plan and protect themselves against forms of relationship abuse. The Confidential Advocate provides referrals, resources and liaison services between the student and other providers who may have necessary resources to support the student who is seeking help.

Madie Brown, Health Promotion Specialist with the UWT Division of Student Affairs, said, “Our students, because of their backgrounds, many being from systematically marginalized communities, are very good at getting through hard things and just getting things done. They’re very good at getting their needs met, but it’s exhausting for students to do on their own. There needs to be a more robust system to get students from start to finish with non-academic-based needs. We want to provide holistic support for students, and the Confidential Advocate service is part of that. The Confidential Advocate is the only truly confidential service at UWT.”

The Confidential Advocate takes an informed consent approach to providing services. Students do not have to take formal measures to receive support from an advocate.

“I want to be clear, most of the people we see don’t want to file a police report, they don’t want to press charges, they just want the abuse to stop,” Brown said.

To prevent relationship harm, advocates say it is important to know what dynamics are considered abuse. Though domestic violence and intimate partner violence are prevalent within relationships in the US,, an online project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline, found that “over half of all college students (57%) say it’s difficult to identify dating abuse.”

The YWCA of Pierce County defines domestic violence as abuse that happens within a household, between family members, or when one partner in a relationship uses power and control tactics to assert authority over another partner in the relationship.

Intimate partner violence, as defined by the CDC, is “abuse or aggression that occurs in a romantic relationship. ‘Intimate partner’ refers to both current and former spouses and dating partners. 

The Power and Control Wheel is a foundational domestic violence education tool created by Ellen Pence, Michael Paymar and Coral McDonald, in collaboration with survivors of abuse and Domestic Abuse Intervention Programs in Duluth, Minnesota. The Power and Control Wheel is a free resource online that explains different ways domestic violence and intimate partner violence can show up in relationships. It has been translated into over 40 languages and is used all over the nation to educate systemic responders about relationship violence. This wheel explains the ways intimate partner violence and domestic violence may show up in a relationship. Some of these ways include, physical or sexual violence, stalking, emotional manipulation, “outing” a partner, or revealing the sexual or gender identity of a person to others, inter-relational oppression and psychological aggression. Intimate partner violence and domestic violence can vary in severity and number of occurrences. This variation can range from one episode that has a long-term negative impact on a survivor to repeated incidents occurring over time.  

Not all relationship harm is abuse. 

The YWCA of Pierce County’s community prevention programs explains one part of addressing and preventing domestic and intimate partner violence is being able to identify the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships before abuse occurs. They name some common indicators of an unhealthy relationship, often referred to as red flags: someone constantly putting you down, demanding passwords to personal accounts, monitoring online and in-person activity, isolation from friends and family, physical and emotional abuse, sexual coercion and invalidating the feelings and experiences of a partner.

Red flags can be warning signs of more serious, unhealthy, or harmful behaviors. If you or someone you know is experiencing unhealthy relationship behaviors from one or more intimate partners, the UWT Confidential Advocate is available for a consultation that allows you to remain anonymous if you choose. 

In addition to knowing red flags, the YWCA of Pierce County says identifying healthy relationship behaviors, or green flags, can be a way to indulge in healthy, lasting connections with a partner(s). Green flags in a relationship are characteristics that indicate mutual respect, safety, care, and appreciation between partners. Some common green flags include respecting boundaries and privacy of your partner, managing feelings of jealousy with mutual respect, always seeking consent, someone who encourages open communication and gives positive encouragement, and someone who wants to spend time with a partner but also encourages that partner to spend time with friends and family.

“Sometimes people find themselves in situations that they didn’t choose to put themselves in, and they didn’t want to happen to them or anyone else, but they have to figure out what to do. Oftentimes there can be barriers, variables, and factors that they have to juggle in terms of making decisions around safety and well-being,” Brown says.

The UWT Confidential Advocate and other local organizations are available to provide safe, confidential support and advocacy, so survivors of abuse are not alone. 

If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse by a family member or intimate partner, safe and confidential help is available. 

Local and National Resources:
24-hour Crisis/Support Lines*:
National Domestic Violence Hotline - 800-799-7233
YWCA Pierce County - 253-383-2593
DAWN (Domestic Abuse Women’s Network) – 425-656-7867
Puyallup Tribe of Indians - 253-680-5499 or 253-722-3518
Consejo Counseling Services – 206-461-3222
API Chaya - 1-877-922-4292
ADWAS (Abused Deaf Women’s Services) - 855-812-1001
NW Network (of Bisexual, Trans, Lesbian & Gay Survivors of Abuse) - 866-427-4747
Refugee Women’s Alliance - 888-847-7205
Korean Women’s Association - 253-359-0470
Family Renewal Shelter - 253-475-9010 
*Anyone can call a crisis/support line. 
Callers can give as much or as little information as they feel comfortable with. 
Sharing identifying information to a crisis line is up to the discretion of the caller. 
Calls can be ended at any point the caller decides they are finished with the conversation.