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Marshall Looks to its Athletes to Help Stop Dating Violence

October 3, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Marshall University is recruiting its athletes to get the word out about a serious issue on the nation's college campuses.

A recent national survey of women college students found 40 percent had experienced some kind of dating violence or abuse. One in three said at some point she had been in an abusive relationship.

Beatrice Crane-Banford, associate director of athletics at Marshall, says some of the Huntington school's star players have recorded public service announcements about dating abuse. She says it's a good way to reach the entire campus.

"We have a lot of fans, and our student athletes are looked up to by other students on campus. I think they're a good outlet."

Nikki Erwin, advocacy coordinator with the Coalition Against Domestic Violence, says a key penalty flag for a woman student to watch for is attempts by a person she is dating to monitor and control what she does and who she talks to. And she says that, talking to the women athletes at Marshall, it was stunning how many had seen such problems.

"To have a hundred young women in a room and for almost half to raise their hand that they had been exposed or knew someone that has been exposed, was overwhelming."

According to Crane-Banford, one reason to talk about dating violence and abuse on a college campus is that many of the students are away from home for the first time and might not know what to look for or what to do about it.

"We want men to respect women, and we want women to respect themselves."

The West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence has met with all of Marshall's athletes, male and female, to talk about the issue. One message they stressed in that help is available on campus and off.

The national domestic violence hot line is at 1-800-799-SAFE.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV