What is Dating Violence?
- Dating violence is any sexual, physical or psychological attack on one partner by the other in a dating relationship.
- All forms of abuse are harmful and should be taken seriously.
- Dating violence is more likely to happen when the aggressor has been drinking or taking drugs.
Sexual abuse includes unwanted sexual touching, using force or pressure to get a partner to consent to sexual activity, rape, attempted rape, and attempting or having sexual intercourse with a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These kinds of abuse are more often directed at women.
Physical abuse includes shoving, slapping, choking, punching, kicking, biting, burning, hair pulling, using a weapon, threatening someone with a weapon, or forcibly confining someone. Typically, men use physical force to assert control while women use it to protect themselves, to retaliate or because they fear that their partner is about to assault them.
Emotional abuse like sexual and physical abuse, varies in its intensity and consequences. It includes behaviour such as insulting or swearing at a partner, belittling them, threatening or terrorizing them, destroying their property or possessions, isolating them from friends and relatives, and treating them with irrational possessiveness or extreme jealousy. Both men and women use emotional abuse as a way to control their partners.
Who is Involved?
Between 16% and 35% of women have experienced dating violence at least once.
The following are general warning signs of the potential for sexual or physical violence in dating relationships. Each warning sign is accompanied by facts or approaches that may help you reduce your risk of being victimized. This information may also help you to offer better support to women who are assaulted.
Warning Sign - Your partner makes threats of violence.
Reducing the Risk - Any threat should be taken seriously. Get help immediately when a partner threatens to use violence, it is not a joke or a game. Men who threaten will generally carry out their threats.
Warning Sign - Your partner is obsessed with dominating and controlling you.
Reducing the Risk - Exploring your partner's attitude to women is probably a useful technique for reducing risk. Knowing how he feels about issues like equality between partners or compromise in decision making is important. Look for early signs that he has to "have it all his own way".
Warning Sign - Your partner is sexually possessive and often degrades or humiliates you.
Reducing the Risk - Possessiveness should be addressed directly. You have to tell your partner that it will not be tolerated. Whether you are dating someone or not, you have the right to do what you want with your body. If he objects, he can always leave the relationship.
Warning Sign - You know your dating partner abused a former girlfriend. His father is physically abusive and your partner accepts or defends the use of violence.
Reducing the Risk - Dating abuse is often part of a continuing pattern of behaviour. If your partner was abusive in a previous relationship, then the risk is very high that he will be abusive in this relationship.
If you are being abused, get out and get help. Informed counselors can help you deal with the emotional and physical consequences of the abuse. If you want to stay and work it out, insist that he do more than just apologize. He needs to get counseling. Violent men do not just stop, the first blow is never the last.
If you suspect that someone you know is being abused, listen and be supportive.