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Relationships - Healthy and Unhealthy
Warning Signs for Dating Violence
How to Talk to Victims
What Is Dating Violence?
Dating violence is any intentional sexual, physical or psychological attack on one
partner by the other in a dating relationship. This definition reflects the belief
that all forms of abuse are harmful and worth taking seriously. A wide range of harmful
acts can occur in dating relationships that go beyond what people traditionally think
of as "serious" abuse, that is, physical or sexual violence. Although both men and
women may act abusively, the abuse of women by men is more pervasive and usually more
Dating violence is more likely to happen when the aggressor has been drinking. This often leads people to blame alcohol for the problem. In fact, abusers themselves use alcohol as an excuse for being violent.
Sexual abuse includes unwanted sexual touching, using force or pressure to get a partner to consent to sexual activity, rape and attempted rape, and attempting or having intercourse with a person who is under the influence of alcohol or drugs. These kinds of abuse are more often directed at women. While all these acts are damaging emotionally, they vary in the extent to which they result in physical injury.
Physical abuse includes shoving, slapping, choking, punching, kicking, biting, burning, hair pulling, using a weapon, threatening someone with a weapon, or forcibly confining someone.
These attacks cause both emotional and physical harm. 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. Some women live in terror of such attacks. Men do not seem to fear assaults by their female partners. In general, men think of women's use of force as ineffectual.
Emotional abuse, like sexual and physical abuse, varies in its intensity and its consequences. It includes behavior 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. Emotional abuse originates in the aggressor's desire to control the other person's behavior. By undermining the other person's self-confidence, the abuser tries to limit a dating partner's ability to act independently.
Both men and women use emotional abuse as a way to control their partners. Men are more likely to escalate the abuse when they think they are losing control. When words are no longer effective, men will sometimes resort to physical violence.
Both partners suffer emotional harm as a result. Society, however, too often downplays the effects of emotional abuse because there is no visible harm. As a result, communities offer little support to deal with emotional abuse by both men and women.
~Source: National Clearinghouse on Family Violence
Dating Violence Facts
- On average, about one out of every three high school students is or has been in the past, involved in an abusive dating relationship.
- Dating violence includes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse.
- Both males and females are the perpetrators of violent acts in dating relationships. It is the girls, however, who are usually injured during the violence.
- Dating violence occurs across all socioeconomic, racial, religious, and ethnic groups.
- Jealousy is the leading cause of dating violence.
Uncontrollable anger is the second leading cause of dating violence.
- Only one out of every 25 victims of dating violence ever seeks the help of a teacher, minister, rabbi, police officer, or counselor.
- Only about four out of 10 relationships end after the onset of violence and abuse.
- Girls reported that their boyfriends initiated the violence 70% of the time. Boys reported that their girlfriends were the initiators only 27% of the time.
- One out of five college students have reported at least one incidence of premarital abuse in their relationship, varying from slapping and hitting to more life threatening violence.
- 27.1% of the college women had experienced sexual assault, attempted sexual assault, or sexual abuse without penetration; or had been subjected to battery, illegal restraint, or intimidation.
- 82.7% of the women said the assault had been committed by someone they knew. Most of these incidents took place during the women's freshman year, when the victims were between 18 and 19 years old.
- 55.3% of the women and 67.5% of the male offenders had been drinking at the time of the incident.
For more information, please contact the Women's Center at (203) 392-6946.