Long's death may be indicative of a trend of domestic violence, according to some University officials

Fourth-year College student Monica Long's untimely death may direct attention to the often-ignored presence of domestic violence at the University.

Domestic violence is a more pervasive concern than many students realize, according to Claire Kaplan, a sexual assault coordinator for the University's Women's Center.

"There seems to be a high level of denial among undergraduates that this is a problem," Kaplan said. "Many people perceive it as a problem of a certain class, but domestic violence affects people at all levels of society."

Twenty-eight percent of couples experience violence, including both married and dating relationships, Kaplan said.

Dean of Students Penny Rue also said she suspected domestic violence is "more widespread than we think." Rue said it is "one of those things that we think can't happen to us, that only happens to someone else."

Long's death is "a tragedy that is unprecedented in my career," Rue added.

According to Kaplan, there often are warning signs aside from overt violence -- such as verbal insults and emotional blackmail -- indicating a relationship may be unsafe. However, "if people are uninformed about the dynamics of abuse, they may not realize how much danger they're actually in," she said.

Lara Eilhardt, co-president of the University chapter of the National Organization of Women, said it is nearly impossible to determine how many University students face domestic violence because the majority of cases go unreported.

"Many women are inherently inattentive to the issue in their own lives," Eilhardt said, often because women don't expect domestic violence to affect the college-aged population. However, "it only takes one time for something bad to happen."

Both Kaplan and Eilhardt urged individuals who find themselves in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship to utilize University resources in seeking help.

The Women's Center offers counseling and emergency aid to students, as well as educational information about domestic violence. Students interested in counseling may contact the Center at 982-2361 for more information. Individuals who find themselves in urgent situations may also contact the University's Sexual Assault Resource Agency at 295-7273, 24 hours a day.

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