YSU sees an increase of dating violence cases reported on campus

By Cara Kalouris

There have been six reported cases of violence at Youngstown State University during the fall 2021 semester. Of those, three were stalking, two were fondling and one dealt with dating violence.

Shawn Varso is a 21-year veteran of YSU’s police department and has served as chief of police since 2017. Although the number of cases may seem high, he said incidents like these aren’t unusual. 

“There may have been an increase in cases, especially with everyone coming back to school all at once,” Varso said. “Possibly, people are reporting it more when it does occur to them.” 

Varso wants students to understand the YSU police department and other campus resources are there to assist them.

“It’s better to report it, especially for the individual’s own safety — own peace of mind,” he said. “There’s ways that we can protect them, and there’s ways the university can accommodate them while they are here on campus. We also have counseling here that is available.”

Jake Protivnak, psychological sciences and counseling department program director, said people who fall victim to partner violence undergo many forms of mental insecurity. 

“They can experience anxiety, depression and PTSD based on those living experiences,” Protivnak said.

He said abusers tend to act on their thoughts when they see their relationship failing or ending.

“Really what they are doing is they are trying to control, manipulate and coerce another person into doing what they want,” he said. “Oftentimes, we will repeat patterns in relationships that we’ve seen or experienced, and I think that is problematic.”

He said being aware of warning signs could aid in avoiding someone with toxic relationship behaviors. 

“Red flags would be a partner who constantly criticizes you, a partner who seeks to control aspects of your life or a partner who tries to isolate you from your support,” he said.

Protivnak urges students to be aware of the many outlets offered on YSU’s campus. 

“On campus, students who have experienced violence and/or abuse in a relationship can reach out to the Title IX Office, YSU Student Counseling Services, Compass Rape Crisis Counseling Center, and Sojourner Domestic Violence Program or the YSU Police Department,” he said. 

He also notes that students who are unsure or afraid to reach out to formal support systems have other options. 

“Speak with the trusted professionals at YSU,” he said. “A faculty member, coach, Student Affairs professional or academic support staff can provide resources and help connect an individual to assistance.”

Title IX Office- (330) 941-4629

YSU Student Counseling Services- (330) 941-3737

Compass Rape Crisis Counseling Center- (330) 782-5664

Sojourner Domestic Violence Program- (330) 747-4040

YSU Police Department- (330) 941-3527

National Domestic Violence Hotline- 1-(800) 799-7233

National Sexual Assault Hotline- 1-(800) 656-4673