What is Dating Violence?
Is the sexual, physical, or emotional abuse of one partner by the other in a dating relationship where the couple is not living together. While incidents of violence against men do occur, violence against women is typically more pervasive, more systematic, and usually more severe.
- 1 in 10 high school students has experienced some form of dating violence
- Studies about dating violence show that in cases involving severe abuse, the majority of abusers are male
- Studies of abused married females show that many reported having been abused by their partners before they were married
- It’s estimated that only 1% of date rapes are reported to the police
Types of Dating Violence
May involve sexual relations without consent, unwanted sexual touching, or being forced to engage in humiliating, degrading sexual activity. Coercion or the threat of coercion is often used to gain the compliance of the victim.
May involve punching, kicking, slapping, pushing, choking, biting, burning, hair pulling, physically confining, striking with an object, or assaulting with a weapon.
May involve intimidating, terrorizing, threatening, humiliating, insulting, pressuring, destroying property, controlling the movements of one’s partner, yelling and screaming to induce fear, isolating from friends and family, or other expressions of extreme jealousy.
Early Warning Signs
Extreme Jealousy – everyone gets jealous sometimes; the key word is ‘extreme’. Both males and females can become extremely jealous.
Possessiveness – this becomes a dangerous sign when someone treats you as if you are a belonging.
Controlling Attitude – this happens when one partner completely rules the relationship and makes all of the decisions, your point of view is not important.
Low Self-Esteem – people with low self-esteem don’t like themselves very much. In a dating relationship a person with low self-esteem may become very dependent on his/her partner.
Unpredictable Mood Swings – nobody stays in the same mood all the time, but a dramatic shift from being jealous, controlling or angry to being sweet, charming and loving is a dangerous sign.
Alcohol and Drug Use – many of the reported violent episodes in dating relationships are carried out when one or both partners have been drinking or doing drugs. Alcohol and drug use lower a person’s self-control, but are not direct causes of violence.
Explosive Anger – even if you have never seen someone being aggressive toward another person, watch out for people who seem to get too angry. These people may hit walls or lockers, yell loudly, call names, or actually threaten other with violence.
Fear of Leaving – if you are in a relationship that you want to get out of, but are afraid to leave that is a good indication that there is something wrong.
How Can We Help?
- We need to educate ourselves on the issue of dating violence.
- We need to impress upon young people that power and control have no place in a caring relationship.
- We need to provide information about all kinds of dating and acquaintance violence, including psychological/emotional/verbal abuse.
- We need to give young people a chance to talk about their experiences and their fears.
- We need to impress on young people that sexual assault is a crime of violence whether the abuser is a stranger, an acquaintance, a family member or a boyfriend.