A new study offers a closer look at a lesser-known form of psychological abuse: educational sabotage. This type of abuse involves behaviors aimed at hindering or stopping another person’s educational efforts.
“This form of violence is used by one of the partners as a means for furthering their own power and control over the other partner,” said Dr. Rachel Voth Schrag, a domestic violence expert and assistant professor in the School of Social Work at The University of Texas at Arlington. “Pursuing higher education can be perceived as a threat by the abusing party.”
Educational sabotage is a form of coercive control that directly affects a survivor’s efforts to obtain educational credentials, said Voth Schrag. Tactics may include disruption of financial aid or academic efforts, physical violence and/or inducing guilt related to academic efforts.
These strategies are a serious hindrance to the successful completion of educational programs and, ultimately, the economic independence and safety of survivors, she said.
For the study, the researchers conducted 20 interviews with community college students who reported current or recent intimate partner violence (IPV). The participants identified several ways in which educational sabotage had impacted their lives. Impacts included reduced academic achievement, emotional or mental health challenges, but on a more positive note, an increased desire to overcome such obstacles.
Educational sabotage is considered a form of IPV, which is a factor in 16.5% of all homicides in the U.S., according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency estimates one in four women and nearly one in 10 men have experienced intimate partner violence during their lifetime.
Pursuing higher education can be a catalyst for breaking out of the isolation and cycles of dependency that often accompany IPV. According to Voth Schrag’s study, “by understanding, addressing, and preventing school sabotage, scholars, institutions of higher education, and their community partners have an opportunity to make an important contribution to the well-being and safety of students.”
The study is published in the journal Violence Against Women.
Source: University of Texas at Arlington