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Online Training Lesson #3: Fast Facts about Dating Violence

Useful Fast Facts

Fast Facts about Dating Violence

In North American culture it is not uncommon for youths to commence the dating process at an early age. Dating and “going out” are at the forefront of adolescent thinking and activity – the social pressure to have a dating relationship is intense. Yet the context of dating and dating behaviours vary widely by age and gender – while at age 12 and 13 they may be going on “group dates” and attending school dances, by age 15 and 16 they may be going on “couple dates.”

Unfortunately abuse and violence does occur in dating relationships at all ages, in fact it parallels adult violence in that it exists on a continuum from verbal and emotional abuse to sexual assault and murder. The consequences of experiencing violence in a dating relationship are long-lasting and may include damage to self-esteem, confidence and sense of safety, a negative affect on development and functioning, and, importantly, increasing risk for experience further violence in future relationships.

Some U.S. statistics are provided by the Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence:

  • about one in three high school students have been or will be involved in an abusive relationship;
  • about forty percent of teenage girls ages 14 to 17 say they know someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend;
  • teen dating violence most often takes place in the home of one of the partners;
  • in 1995, 7 percent of all murder victims were young women who were killed by their boyfriends;
  • 20 percent of dating couples report some type of violence in their relationship;
  • a survey of adolescent and college students revealed that date rape accounted for 67 percent of sexual assaults;
  • a survey of 500 young women, ages 15 to 24, found that 60 percent were currently involved in an ongoing abusive relationship and all participants had experienced violence in a dating relationship.

In Canada, the situation is equally alarming:

  • The 1993 Canadian National Survey (DeKeseredy and Kelly) sampled 3142 university and college students in Canada. When questioned about experiences of abuse in their elementary (Grades 1 to 8) dating relationships 19 percent of the men reported that they had been emotionally abusive while 4 percent had been physically abusive. Amongst the women, 4 percent reported that they had been physically forced to engage in sexual activities, 24 percent said that their partners had hurt them emotionally, and 7.2 percent said they had been physically hurt;
  • That same study reported that between 16 percent and 35 percent of young women reported having experienced at least one physical assault by a male dating partner, 28 percent experienced at least one incident of sexual abuse in the previous 12 months and 45 percent had been victimized in a dating relationship since leaving high school;
  • In Atlantic Canada, a 2000 study of almost 1700 students in grades 7, 9 and 11 found that 29 percent of the young women and 13 percent of the young men had experienced some form of dating violence that was upsetting to them;
  • A 1995 study of Quebec adolescents aged 15 to 19 years old found that 54 percent of the young women and 13 percent of the young men had experienced sexual coercion in a dating relationship.

It is important for young people to recognize the warning signs of abuse, including:

  • Your partner makes threats of violence;
  • Your partner is obsessed with dominating and controlling you;
  • Your partner is sexually possessive and often degrades or humiliates you;
  • You know your dating partner abused a former girlfriend. His father is physically abusive. Your partner accepts or defends the use of violence.

Other potential warning signs associated with the personality of the abuser have been identified:

  • Low self-esteem or poor self-image;
  • Low tolerance for frustration;
  • Mood swings;
  • Short tempered or anger prone (tending to express fear or anxiety as anger, or refusing to discuss feelings and then blowing up in explosive anger);
  • Extreme jealousy;
  • Over-possessiveness.

Based on these characteristics a person who is being abusive then may:

  • Get too serious too quickly;
  • Feel they need to make all the decisions;
  • Manipulate and control the other person’s contact with friends, family, outside activities, or isolate them from friends and family;
  • Put down the other person’s ideas, friends, family, appearance;
  • Impose stereotypical views of male and female relationships (men in control, women submissive, etc.)
  • Blame, threaten, use guilt;
  • Make accusations of dishonesty;
  • Demand to know the other person’s whereabouts at all times;
  • Refuse to take “no” for an answer.