Unhealthy Relationships are on the Rise: 3 Ways Investigations could be Impacted

As a Title IX professional in the higher education or K-12 system, you may notice a growing rise in unhealthy relationships–everything from stalking, harassment, and verbal abuse, to significant emotional manipulation. If so, you’re not alone.

Many Title IX Coordinators and professionals report that, anecdotally, more of their cases involve unhealthy relationship patterns. Behaviors include incessant texting and messaging, stalking via social media, demands for explicit photos, and using guilt and persuasion to prevent the relationship from ending.

It’s clear that domestic violence drastically increased during COVID, and more time will show where the data stands now. At the end of the current academic year, colleges, universities, and K-12 institutions will report more data to confirm this increase since 2020.

So, with unhealthy relationships on the rise, how might that impact your investigations?

Longer, More Complicated Investigations

No matter how it appears at first, a Title IX case is never simple, easy, or “cut and dry.” Add unhealthy relationships, and it is even less. For example, unhealthy relationships rarely demonstrate only one problematic behavior (like an instance of stalking, a heated conversation, or an intense text). Rather, an unhealthy relationship often shows a pattern of several behaviors that could all prove to be policy violations. Because of these many complex layers, these types of cases require especially thorough investigation.

Increased Mental Health Hurdles

Dating violence and toxic relationships can cause a strain on mental health for involved parties. Title IX professionals won’t be surprised to find students in their cases struggling to attend class, study, or find joy in their surroundings. Even with providing supportive measures and mental health resources, navigating these challenges requires even more sensitivity to a likely already complicated case.

Greater Volume of Investigations

As unhealthy relationships increase, ideally so does the cultural awareness surrounding them. With more awareness may come increased Title IX reports involving unhealthy relationships and dating violence. Title IX Coordinators, investigators, and other professionals may see a heavier caseload as a result of this increase.

February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. For more resources about relationship health, visit One LoveLove is Respect or The Domestic Violence Hotline.

How We Can Help

For up-to-date information on all Title IX changes and how they affect you and your institution, join us for Title IX Thursdays on the first Thursday of every month.

For more information about our Title IX consulting services, including advising, hearing adjudication, and investigation, contact us at info@titleixconsult.com.