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Violence & Domestic Abuse - Dating Violence

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What Is Dating Violence?

Dating violence is more than just arguing or fighting. It is a pattern of controlling behaviors that one partner uses to get power over the other, including:
Any kind of physical violence or threat of physical violence to gain a sense of control
Emotional, mental, psychological abuse, such as playing mind games, making a dating partner feel crazy, or constantly putting down or criticizing a dating partner
Sexual abuse, including forcing an individual to engage in acts he/she does not want to engage in, refusing to have safe sex, or making a dating partner feel badly about him/herself sexually - by criticism, intimidation, or blame for any sexual difficulties.
Dating violence refers to abuse or mistreatment that occurs between “dating partners”: individuals who are having - or may be moving towards – an intimate relationship. (Dating relationships do not include individuals who are living together). With the increased divorce rate, and concurrent increase among dating adults, Dating Violence does not refer only to adolescent or teenage dating partners.
Dating violence may occur in either heterosexual or same-sex relationships. It may take place at any point in the dating process – when two people first meet or become interested in one another, on their first date, during their courtship, once they have been involved with each other for some time, or after their relationship has ended.
Dating violence may be a single act of violence – such as sexual assault or “date rape” – or it may be a pattern of abusive behavior and mistreatment that is repeated – and often escalates – over time.
Abusive relationships go through cycles (see The Cycle of Abuse). Part of what makes dating violence confusing and painful is that there may be love mixed in with the abuse. This can perpetuate denial in both the abuser as well as the victim, and may make it difficult to understand that abuse is occurring.
  • Injuries that cannot be explained
  • Extreme jealousy exhibited by partner
  • Changes in appearance (changing style of dress)
  • Changes in behavior (quitting a team or other activity)
  • Isolation from friends and family
  • Changes in demeanor (signs of depression or mood swings)
  • Sign of fear of partner
  • Obsessive/hyper-vigilant focus on partner
  • Evidence of being restricted by his or her partner
  • Being checked up on, constantly called or secretly watched by partner
  • Defensiveness or anger when asked about the relationship
  • Dramatic arguments, breakups and reconciliations
Does your dating partner:
  • Have sudden and extreme mood swings, between extremely positive and extremely negative behaviors, words, and attitudes?
  • Belittle, make fun of you, put you down, humiliate, or embarrass you in front of other people?
  • Have a history of bad relationships or past violence, always blame his/her problems on other people, or blame you for “making” him/her treat you badly?
  • Try to get you drunk, high or chemically incapacitated, or try to get you alone when you don’t want to be?
  • Try to control you – by using coercion and threats, using intimidation, making all of the significant decisions in your relationship, try to dictate what you wear, whom you speak and socialize with?
  • Physically abuse you?
  • Blow disagreements out of proportion?
  • Constantly threaten to break up or worry that you will initiate a break up?
  • Talk negatively about people in sexual ways or talk about sex like it’s a game or a contest?
  • Try to force you, pressure you, or manipulate you to engage in sexual acts or activities that are uncomfortable for you?
  • Pressure you to have sex when you don’t want to?
Do you:
  • Feel less confident and good about yourself when you’re with him/her?
  • Hear from other people whom you trust that they’re worried about you in this relationship, or worried about your safety?
  • Feel scared or worried about doing or saying “the wrong thing” to your dating partner?
  • Find yourself changing your behavior out of fear or to avoid a fight?
  • Frequently apologize or make excuses for your dating partner’s behavior?
  • Give up things that used to be important, such as friends or activities?
Date rape occurs when one partner forces the other to perform sexual acts against their will. Nothing – not even previous consensual sex – entitles anyone to force others to perform sexual acts. Without consent, forcing sexual contact is a crime. Date rape is a betrayal of trust and can cause long-lasting emotional pain. Date rape or acquaintance rape is about power, control, and anger – not about romance.
  • Be clear with dates and partners in your life about what, if any, sexual behavior you are comfortable with; keep talking as you get deeper into a relationship
  • Use alcohol responsibly, if at all; do not use other drugs – alcohol and other drugs decrease your ability to take care of yourself, cloud your judgment and understanding of what another person wants, and can hinder your ability to make sensible, rational decisions
  • Always watch your drink, and do not leave it unattended. Don’t accept beverages from someone you don’t know and trust
  • Understand that if a partner is drunk and you have sex with him/her against his/her will, it is still rape
  • Trust your gut feelings. If a place or the way your date acts makes you nervous or uneasy, leave. Always take enough money for a phone call for help, keep a cell phone with you, keep ID with you
  • Check out a first date or blind date with friends. Meet in and go to public places (especially true for online dating). Take public transportation or drive your own car.
  • Leave social events with friends, not with someone you just met or don’t know well.
  • Realize that forcing a partner to have sex against his/her will is rape, a violent crime with serious consequences
  • Accept a partner’s decision when he/she says “no.” Do not see it as a challenge
  • Ask yourself how sexual stereotypes affect your attitudes, if at all
  • Get help immediately if you are witnessing a gang rape
Remember that rape is rape. You are not to blame. Know that action against the rapist can prevent others from becoming victims. If you experience date rape, get help immediately. Phone the police, a friend, a rape crisis center, a relative. Don’t isolate yourself, don’t feel guilty or ashamed, and don’t try to ignore it. It is a crime that should be reported. Additionally, get medical attention as soon as possible. Do not shower, wash, douche, or change your clothes. Valuable evidence could be destroyed. If you think you’ve been sexually assaulted under the influence of a date rape drug, get medical help immediately. Try not to urinate before providing any urine samples. If possible, collect any containers from which you drank.
Understand that recovery is a process. Rape is a traumatic experience, and counseling can help you through the process of recovery.
There are drugs, commonly called “date rape drugs” because when they are slipped into someone’s drink, a person may become physically helpless, unable to refuse sex, and a sexual assault can occur without the victim being able to remember what happened. Common date rape drugs are Rohypnol, GHB, and Ketamine.
Rohypnol (roofies, roopies, circles, the forget pills). Works like a tranquilizer. It causes muscle weakness, fatigue, slurred speech, loss of motor coordination and judgment, and amnesia that lasts up to 94 hours. It looks like aspirin – small, white, and round.
GHB (liquid X, salt water, scoop). Causes quick sedation. Its effects are drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, coma, and death. The most common form is a clear liquid, although it also can be a white, grainy powder.
National Institute on Drug Abuse
This site explains what GHB, Rohypnol, and Ketamine look like, the symptoms or effects they have on the body.
(National Center for Victims of Crime)
(National Crime Prevention Council)
(Office on Violence Against Women)
(Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network)