Dating Violence 101

February 9, 2011

What is Dating Violence?

Dating violence is a pattern of abusive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner.

A Pattern of Behavior

Calling dating violence a pattern doesn’t mean the first instance of abuse is not dating violence. It just recognizes that dating violence usually involves a series of abusive behaviors over a course of time. Here is a model of how it works:

Tension Building

Things start to get tense between a teen and their dating partner.

Honeymoon

The abuser apologizes, trying to make up with his or her partners and to shift the blame for the explosion to someone or something else.

Cycle of Violence

Explosion

There is an outburst of violence that can include intense emotional, verbal, sexual and/or physical abuse.

Every relationships is different, but the one thing that is common to most abusive dating relationships is that the violence escalates over time and becomes more and more dangerous for the young victim.

Power and Control

The definition also points out that at the core of dating violence are issues of power and control. The diagram details how violent words and actions are tools an abusive partner uses to gain and maintain power and control over his or her partner.

Power and Control Wheel

What is a Partner?

“Partner” might mean different things to different people, particularly across generations. The relationship may be sexual, but it does not have to be. It may be serious or casual, monogamous or not, short-term or long-term. The important thing to remember is that dating violence occurs within an intimate relationship.

What Does Dating Violence Look Like?

Teens and young adults experience the same types of abuse in relationships as adults. This can include:

  • Physical abuse: any intentional use of physical force with the intent to cause fear or injury, like hitting, shoving, biting, strangling, kicking or using a weapon
  • Emotional abuse: non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking
  • Sexual abuse: any action that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including rape, coercion or restricting access to birth control

While teens experience the same types of abuse as adults, often the methods are unique to teen culture. For example, teens often report “digital abuse” — receiving threats by text messages or being stalked on facebook or MySpace.

If you or a loved one is in a violent relationship, please get help.

Ten Warning Signs of Abuse

While there are many warning signs of abuse, here are ten of the most common:

  1. Checking your cell phone or email without permission
  2. Constant put-downs
  3. Extreme jealousy or insecurity
  4. Explosive temper
  5. Financial control
  6. Isolating you from family or friends
  7. Mood swings
  8. Physically hurting you in any way
  9. Possessiveness
  10. Telling you what to do

 

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