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Dating Violence 101

February 9, 2011 1 comment

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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Pop Quiz, Oh No; Oh Yes…Teen Dating Violence Facts

February 7, 2011 1 comment



TEEN DATING VIOLENCE FACTS

Do you know how teen dating violence affects teens across the country?

Take this quiz to find out!

Give yourself one point for every question you get right.

1. At what age do females experience the highest amounts of relationship violence?
a. 16-24
b. 25-30
c. 31-35
2. What percentage of tweens (ages 11-14) in relationships know friends who have been verbally abused (called stupid, worthless, ugly, etc.) by a partner?
a. 5%
b. 25%
c. 47%
3. What is the number of teens that have had partners try to prevent them from spending time with friends or family?
a. 1 in 35
b. 1 in 4
c. 1 in 50
4. What percentage of high school students have been physically forced to have sexual intercourse?
a. 2%
b. 15%
c. 8%

5. What percentage of teens in relationships have been sent text messages 10, 20 or 30 times an hour by a partner wanting to know where they are, what they are doing and who they are with?
a. 30%
b. 10%
c. 25%
6. What percentage of teens in relationships have been called names, harassed or put down by their partner through cell phones and texting?
a. 25%
b. 17%
c. 3%
7. Which of these groups is able to deal with teen dating violence better?
a. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered and queer (LGBTQ)
b. Teenage boys
c. Heterosexual (straight) people
d. Teenage girls over 17
e. No one group is better able to overcome teen dating violence.

Answer Key:

1. a. (16-24); 2. c. (47%); 3. b. (1 in 4); 4. c. (8%); 5. a. (30%); 6. a. (25%); 7. e. (no one group is better able to overcome teen dating violence.)
Scoring:

So, did you get all the questions right? Were some of your selections wrong? Well, guess what? It’s not the score that really matters; what’s important is to get the word out. Many people, especially teens, don’t know about teen dating violence. So regardless of whether you got all the questions right or wrong, share this knowledge with your peers.

Check out thesafespace.org to get more information and to find out how you can get involved.

C.M. Rennison and S. Welchans, “BJS Special Report: Intimate Partner Violence,” (Washington, DC: Bureau of Justice Statistics,
2000).
Tween/Teen Dating Relationships Survey (2008) TRU, Liz Claiborne Inc.
Teen Dating Abuse Survey 2006 (2006) TRU, Liz Claiborne Inc.
Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance (2005). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Tech Abuse in Teen Relationships Study (2007). TRU, Liz Claiborne Inc.]
Tech Abuse in Teen Relationships Study (2007). TRU, Liz Claiborne Inc.]

You have the right to a safe and healthy relationship…free from violence and free from fear.
© 2008 Break the Cycle, Updated 3.08

http://www.breakthecycle.org
http://www.thesafespace.org
888.988.TEEN
askanything@breakthecycle.org

 

The Warnings Signs of Digital Dating Abuse

February 5, 2011 Comments off

 

A Mother Turning Her Loss Into Prevention of Dating Violence…

February 4, 2011 2 comments

Siobhan Russell and her mother Lynne Russell shortly before Siobhan was killed.

It has been two years since 19-year-old Siobhan Russell was found brutally stabbed to death by her 17-year-old boyfriend in Oak Hill, Virginia. In 2010, Siobhan’s abuser was arrested and sentenced to 40 years in prison. After living through this horrific event, Siobhan’s mother was determined to do all that she could to prevent other acts of abuse and violence. She now runs an organization to raise awareness about teen dating violence, where she speaks to communities about the warning signs of dating violence. She is an example for us all.

February is National Teen Dating Violence Prevention and Awareness Month and it is critical that we take this time to remember that domestic violence is not just a problem for adults. One in three adolescents in the US will be a victim of physical, emotional or sexual abuse from a dating partner. Nearly 80% of girls who have been physically abused in their intimate relationships continue to date their abuser. And two-thirds of teens who are in an abusive relationship never tell anyone about the abuse. It’s time to shine a light on this issue.

Recognizing abuse in a relationship can be difficult, especially for teens. There are many types of abuse that young people may believe are normal in a relationship. Even though teen relationships may be different from adult relationships, teens can experience the same types of abuse. Teens also face unique obstacles if they decide to get help. They may not have money, transportation or a safe place to go. They may also concerns about confidentiality with many adults obligated to make reports to police, parents and/or child protective services.

But, teens have a right to safe and healthy relationships. Every community and family should take the lead in raising awareness and preventing teen dating violence. There are many ways that you can take part:

  • Encourage legislators to introduce laws that require teen dating violence education in the classroom. Teens spend the majority of their time in school or at school-related activities and without laws in place to protect them, domestic and sexual violence among teens will continue to cause upheaval at home and at school. Encourage school leaders to step up if legislators will not and offer to pay the often small fees (less than $100) for effective dating violence prevention curricula.
  • Know the laws in your State.
  • Take the time to educate yourself and others about teen dating violence. The following websites offer information about teen dating violence and what you can do to help:

Like Siobhan’s mother, you can make a difference.

Take care and STAY SAFE!

Text Messages Become a Growing Weapon in Dating Violence, Part 3…

July 1, 2010 1 comment

Text Messages Become a Growing Weapon in Dating Violence, Part 3…

Last year, Maryland passed a bill to encourage — rather than require — school districts to teach the topic. It was less than what Bill and Michele Mitchell, who lost their 21-year-old daughter, Kristin, to dating violence, wanted. But it was a start, and the couple from Ellicott City will continue to push, they say.

Bill Mitchell says he hopes that more young people will begin to see warning signs where his family did not.

Just hours before she was killed in 2005, Kristin had texted her boyfriend: “You are being ridiculous. Why cant i do something with my friends.”

He later found and heard about other texts, including one that asked why she had gone to her class rather than spend time with her boyfriend. Kristin was in her senior year at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia and graduated three weeks before her death.

Says Mitchell: “Text messaging, in the wrong hands, has to be about the worst thing that’s come along when we’re talking about dating violence and controlling personalities.”

Being tracked

In a recent survey, nearly one in four of those ages 14 to 24 reported that partners check in multiple times a day to see where they are or who they are with, and more than one in 10 said partners demanded passwords, according to a survey by the Associated Press and MTV.

One challenge is that many teens do not view excessive texting as a problem and may not recognize abusive behaviors. “If you’re getting 50 messages an hour and you want 50 messages an hour, that’s not a problem,” says Marjorie Gilberg, executive director of Break the Cycle, which works to end dating violence. “But if you’re getting 50 messages an hour and you don’t even want one, that’s very different.”

These sorts of topics are addressed through a teen help line called Love Is Respect and several national awareness campaigns, including MTV’s effort on digital abuse, A Thin Line, a joint effort on digital dating abuse called That’s Not Cool and the initiative Love Is Not Abuse.

In California, Jill Murray says her cases have included a 16-year-old whose ex-boyfriend paid four friends to help him text when he was asleep or at work. “It was like psychological torture.”

Murray urges parents to pay more attention to their children’s texting lives, checking to see how many messages they get, at what hour and from whom. “Parents don’t know this is going on whatsoever,” she says.

Text Messages Become a Growing Weapon in Dating Violence…Part 2

June 30, 2010 Comments off

Text Messages Become a Growing Weapon in Dating Violence…Part 2

As a parent, Lynne Russell thinks the privacy of text messaging helped obscure the danger that her daughter, Siobhan “Shev” Russell, 19, faced. The teenager from Oak Hill, Va., was killed by her boyfriend in April 2009, 10 weeks after delivering a graduation speech at Mountain View Alternative High School.

Later, Lynne Russell and her husband found scores of texts, some disturbing, that Siobhan’s boyfriend, now 18, had sent. “I don’t think she recognized the warning signs, and we didn’t see the signs until it was too late,” says Russell, who plans to start a dating-violence awareness campaign in the fall.

A federal survey released this month showed one of 10 high school students nationally reported being hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend during the previous year. In Maryland, which did a similar survey, one in six said they were hurt.

Although such surveys do not show a rise in violence, the texting culture has changed the experience.

In Rockville, a woman in her 20s was so closely tracked that her partner insisted that she text him photos to prove her whereabouts — each with a clock displaying the time, says Hannah Sassoon, coordinator of Montgomery County’s domestic violence response team.

Katalina Posada, 22, a recent graduate of the University of Maryland, says one of her friends is frequently texted by a jealous boyfriend. “It’s like the 20 questions a parent would ask,” she says, adding that she finally told her friend: “This isn’t right.”

Textual harassment is getting more attention as concerns about dating violence mount. In the past several years, about a dozen states have passed or are considering laws to bring dating violence education into schools.

The legislative push comes partly from parents such as Gary Cuccia, a Pennsylvania father whose daughter, Demi Brae, was killed a day after her 16th birthday in 2007. Cuccia says his daughter had broken up with her teenage boyfriend, whom the family thought of as likable, if a little jealous.

In the days before Demi’s death, Cuccia would later learn, her ex-boyfriend texted her again and again: “You know you can’t live without me,” he wrote. “U need to see me.” And: “I’m ballin my eyes.”

When Demi finally agreed to see the boy, he came over when she was alone and stabbed her 16 times in her living room.

Her father says he thinks that the largely private nature of texting is an important aspect of the problem.

“When I was growing up, we had one phone in the whole house, and if you were fighting with your girlfriend, everybody knew about it,” Cuccia says.

Text Messages Become a Growing Weapon in Dating Violence…Part 1

June 29, 2010 Comments off

Text Messages Become a Growing Weapon in Dating Violence...Part 1

The text messages to the 22-year-old Virginia woman arrived during the day and night, sometimes 20 or 30 at once. Her ex-boyfriend wanted her back. He would not be refused. He texted and called 758 times.

In New York, a 17-year-old trying to break up with her boyfriend got fewer messages, but they were menacing. “You don’t need nobody else but me,” read one. Another threatened to kill her.

It is all part of what is increasingly called “textual harassment,” a growing aspect of dating violence at a time when cellphones and unlimited texting plans are ubiquitous among the young. It can be insidious, because messages pop up at the sender’s will: Where r u? Who r u with? Why didnt u answer me?

“It’s gotten astonishingly worse in the last two years,” says Jill Murray, who has written several books on dating violence and speaks on the topic nationally. Especially for those who have grown up in digital times, “it’s part and parcel of every abusive dating relationship now.”

The harassed often feel compelled to answer the messages, whether they are one-word insults or 3 a.m. demands. Texts arrive in class, at the dinner table, in movie theaters — 100 or more a day, for some.

Harassment is “just easier now, and it’s even more persistent and constant, with no letting up,” says Claire Kaplan, director of sexual and domestic violence services at the University of Virginia, which became the focus of national attention in May with the killing of 22-year-old lacrosse player Yeardley Love.

Police have charged Love’s ex-boyfriend, George Huguely V, also 22, with first-degree murder and allege that he removed her computer from the crime scene as he fled. Police were investigating whether Huguely sent Love threatening e-mails or text messages.

Kacey Kirkland, a victim services specialist with the Fairfax County Police Department, has seen textual harassment in almost every form: Threats. Rumors. Lies. Late-night questions.

“The advances in technology are assisting the perpetrators in harassing and stalking and threatening their victims,” Kirkland says.

In the case involving the 22-year-old who received 758 messages from her ex-boyfriend — all unanswered — the harassment led to stalking charges and a protective order, Kirkland says.

Harassment by text is only one facet of abusive relationships, which often involve contact in person, by phone, by e-mail, and through Facebook or other social networking sites.

Warning signs hidden

“What technology offers is irrefutable evidence of the abuse,” says Cindy Southworth, founder of the Safety Net Project on technology at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, who says it helps in court and is hoping for an increase in conviction rates.