What exactly is dating violence you ask? Dating violence is behavior that is controlling, abusive, and/or aggressive in a romantic or dating relationship. It doesn’t matter if the relationship is between gays, straights, whites, blacks or Asians. Dating violence happens in all types of romantic relationships and can include verbal, physical emotional and/or sexual abuse.
Where can victims find help and resources? The National Center for Victims of Crime offers a wealth of resources and help to those who need it.
Some verbal and emotional characteristics of abuse include:
- Calling you names
- Making you feel bad by belittling you
- Making violent threats against you, your family or themself if you do not do what they want
Recognizing controlling behaviors:
- Stopping you from doing things with your friends
- Calling, texting, paging excessively to find out where you are, what you’re doing and who your with
- Telling you what you can or can’t wear
- Having to be with you at all times and at all costs
Physical abuse may include:
- Pulling hair
Signs of sexual abuse
- Unwanted touching and kissing
- Forcing you to have sex
- Not letting you use contraceptives or birth control
- Forcing you to do sexual things you don’t want to do
Dating violence does not discriminate and can affect anyone. Boys or girls can be victims, but they tend to abuse their partners in different ways. Girls are more likely to yell, threaten to hurt themselves, pinch, slap, scratch, or kick. Boys injure girls more and are most likely to punch or hit their partner and force them to do or perform sexual acts.
Victims of dating violence typically feel guilty and think it’s their fault. They tend to feel angry, sad, lonely, depressed, and confused. They have feelings of anxiety, humiliation, and helplessness to stopping the abuse. Surprisingly the abused tend to be very protective their abusing partner.
Unfortunaltly, this type of abuse is not uncommon.
- One in five teens in a serious relationship reports having been hit, slapped, or pushed by a partner.
- Fifty to eighty percent of teens have reported knowing others who were involved in violent relationships.
- Teens identifying as gay, lesbian, and bisexual are as likely to experience violence in same-sex dating releationships as youths involved in opposite sex dating
- Many studies indicate that, as a dating relationship becomes more serious, the potential for and nature of violent behavior escalates.
- Young women, ages 16 to 24 years, experience the highest rates of relationship violence.
Being a victim of dating violence is not your fault. Nothing you say, wear, or do gives anyone the right to hurt you. If you feel you are in an abusive relationship get help right away. Don’t keep concerns to yourself, contact someone that can help you like The National Crime Victim hotline at 1-800-FYI-CALL . Confide in someone you trust like parents, teachers, principals, counselors, priests or nurses.
Think about ways to help yourself be safer. This means being proactive and thinking about what to do, where to go for help, and who to call ahead of time. Rehearse the following:
- Where can you go for help?
- Who can you call for help?
- Who are the people you trust to help you?
- How will you escape a violent situation?
Some precautions you should take include letting your trusted friends and family know when you are afraid or need help. When you go out, tell people where you are going and when they should expect you back. Memorize important phone numbers and put them in your cell phone on speed dial. Go out in a group or with other couples. Have emergency money available for transportation if you need to take a taxi, bus, or subway to escape.
Protect yourself with personal protection products such as pepper spray or personal alarms. Home security products are inexpensive and can alert you to motion or attempted entry into your house or apartment.
If you need more information visit www.ncvc.org/dvrc