Column: So We Got Baggage

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Jazzmine Brooks

I recognize in my short 29 years of experience in relationships — healthy and unhealthy — I still have a lot of growing to do. As the violence prevention and Green Dot coordinator, it may seem easy for me to give my opinion about relationships and violence that happens within them.

I can name off statistics, like one in three women and one in four men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime (ncadv.org). That number is astronomically higher when you include folks within the LGBT community, people of color and people with disabilities. One would hope knowing these numbers would result in change, but we really need to start asking hard questions about how people become at risk and/or perpetrate violence.

My grandmother used to say, “Baby, people got baggage. You don’t know what luggage they carrying.” As I think about what to write that would hopefully get you thinking, I ask you to consider — what is that baggage? It starts with self-reflection and determining what type of relationships(s) you are looking to build. What are you looking to bring and gain from a relationship? Are you ready and why? How do you communicate that to those around you? Get those answers first before you start sharing your interest. Yes, we thrive on human connection which allows us to feel a part of something outside of ourselves. However, we need to not think about relationships as only a single exchange, but multiple exchanges that cause ripples in each other’s lives.  

Your brief fling matters. Your tone and body language during an argument, it matters. Constant breaking up, accusations of mistrust or coercing your partner into sex, SO MATTERS! We assume the trauma isn’t physical, therefore, it doesn’t have a lasting impact. You are wrong! To the person on the receiving end — you are not crazy and you can get help when you are ready. No one should live in fear. So as you digest this, ‘check’ your luggage before hopping on another plane.

For more information about support services, reporting and how to help a friend visit sexualmisconduct.dso.iastate.edu. To get involved with Green Dot at Iowa State visit studentwellness.iastate.edu.