Dating violence in the spotlight …Campus awareness campaigns urge women to speak up about abuse

By Mallory Metheny

Alexandra Kogut’s last argument with her boyfriend, Clayton Whittemore, began with a few shoves. When Whittemore started pummeling her with his fists, Kogut was quickly overwhelmed. As she lay the floor, her breath forced and irregular, Whittemore landed a final blow with a curling iron, until she made no noise at all. The argument was petty, Whittemore later told police. But the result was devastating.
Kogut, a freshman at the State University of New York College at Brockport, died Sept. 29, becoming the latest high profile victim of relationship violence. For national and campus organizations that work to prevent dating abuse, the tragedy served as a grim reminder that awareness efforts are far from complete.
But education and dating violence prevention efforts are gaining ground on campus as cases like Kogut’s underscore the reality that no one is immune.
The Liz Claiborne Inc.’s Love Is Not Abuse 2011 College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll found that 43 percent of college women in dating relationships experienced various forms of abuse. Another 52 percent said they knew a friend who also endured abuse, including physical, verbal and sexual attacks, as well as controlling behaviors.