Ya’ll may have heard (and if you haven’t, scroll on down to the next post) that October is RVAM! Also known as DVAM, RVAM celebrates RV/ DV/ IPV/ FV Awareness Month… basically all of the letters all the time. So what’s going on with this alphabet soup?
- Relationship Violence: between people in relationships—friends, coworkers, acquaintances, students, professors, roommates, intimate-partners, family members, etc.
- Domestic Violence: between family members or intimate-partners
- InterPersonal Violence: between people/ communities
- Intimate-Partner Violence: between intimate-partners
- Family Violence: between family members
Here at UNC, we choose to use the term “relationship violence” because it best describes the people between whom violence exists at UNC. However, when you go to the Safe at UNC website to check out the incredible list of RVAM events occurring on and off campus this month, you may notice that our dearly beloved (and sometimes not so beloved) roomies aren’t being discussed in this slew of events. So what’s the deal?
Roommates: an Important Part of the “R” in RVAM
RVAM is motivated by the idea that everyone deserves a safe and healthy relationship- and roommates are an important part of that!
Now, we’ve all had that roommate who did some uncool things and made our life miserable for a semester or two.
But at the same time, roommates can also be kinda great. In any roommate relationship, like in all relationships, there will be conflict.How you choose to handle that conflict is what will make the roommate relationship healthy or unhealthy.
So, how do you handle roommate conflict in a healthy way? Well, remember that long awkward roommate agreement you had to do at the beginning of the year in university housing? Turns out they had a smart thing going there. Communication and setting expectations is key to resolving conflict in a healthy way. There are tons of resources available online to help improve you communication skills – even though some might be focused on romantic relationships, those same skills can be used in any setting!
It’s also important to remember that conflict is a normal and natural part of any relationship. However, if you’re constantly fighting with your roommate, and you feel that they have power and control over you, you might be experiencing relationship abuse. It’s never ok for someone to put you down, call you names, humiliate you, threaten you, coerce you, minimize you, or treat you disrespectfully.
Not sure what’s going on in your relationship with your roommate? There are quizzes online, like this one from loveisrespect.org, that can give you some insight. While these tests are geared towards romantic relationships and should only be used as a starting point, they’re a good way to help you get a better picture of what’s going on and start a conversation.
Want to learn more about healthy relationships? Take Sustaining Healthy Relationships, a free online module created by the UNC LGTBQ Center and Student Wellness!
Looking for help/ support on or off campus? Check out safe.unc.edu.
Linda C is a Program Assistant for Violence Prevention at UNC Student Wellness. Read their bio here.