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LETTER: Domestic abuse is not an 'anger management' problem

IU student and domestic violence survivor Miriam J. Woods explains how IU and an IDS column misunderstand the nature of abusive behavior.



Student and domestic violence survivor Miriam Woods explains how IU and an IDS column mis-attribute anger management to abusive behavior

I was pleased to see Matthew Cinkoske’s recent column about domestic violence at IU — “Is IU mishandling student domestic violence?” — in the June 14 issue. However, as the individual whose case is referenced in the column, I would like to make some clarifications and additions.

Most people who are not survivors of domestic abuse carry around a number of misconceptions about what abuse is, how and why it happens, who perpetrates it and who it affects. Unfortunately, the very people at IU tasked with protecting students from domestic abuse seem to be operating under many of these same misconceptions.

In my case against my abuser through the Office of Student Ethics, I did not appeal so my abuser could suffer a “higher punishment,” as Cinkoske writes. Rather, my appeal explained the “anger management counseling” my ex had been ordered to participate in did not address the real problem — his abusive attitudes and behaviors — and requested instead he be required to participate in an approved, certified batterer intervention program (BIP) for a period of at least two years.

Abuse is not an “anger management” problem. My abuser never punched a cop; he never physically restrained and shouted insults at an IU professor. He never punched my dad in the face, and he never hit me when witnesses were present. If he truly had problems “managing” his “anger,” he might have done any of these. Instead, he worked hard to make sure it was always my word against his. Consistently and strategically, he waited until we were alone behind closed doors before assaulting me either verbally or physically.

In my appeal, I provided articles and a book chapter from experts on domestic abuse explaining all of this. I even provided lists of BIPs in both Indiana and my ex’s home state. Yet IU ignored all this and let the original, misguided decision stand.

How long will IU keep its head in the sand about the real causes — and solutions — to domestic abuse? How long will the University go on pretending such things just don’t happen here at all?

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