What it looks like, the facts, safety planning, helpful hints
This type of abuse begins when we start dating and developing intimate relationships. It can happen at any age and in both heterosexual and gay relationships.
Dating Violence Can Take Many Forms
Sexual molestation & sexual assault
- unwanted sexual touching
- sexual harassment
- sexual exploitation
- forcing unsafe, degrading or offensive sexual activity
- denying or ridiculing a person's sexuality
- control of reproductive decisions
- excessive jealousy
- insisting partner cut off communication and contact with family and/or friends
- grandiose promises of marriage or security, often under the guise of love
- destruction of personal property
- degrading comments or put downs
Physical abuse and torture
- assault, which can include pushing, slapping, kicking, biting, beating, burning, strangulation and/or use of a weapon
- physical neglect, such as denial of food and/or medication
- inappropriate personal or medical care
- rough handling
- physical torture
- encouraging exclusion
- spreading rumors (often about sexual activity)
- inappropriate phone, internet and/or test messaging
Stalking behaviours, including:
- persistent and unwanted attention
- spying and following
- excessive telephone, cell phone, internet or test message communication
- Younger women, low income persons, those from ethno cultural or other marginalized communities, aboriginal women, women from violent backgrounds are more likely to be victims of abuse.
Facts About Dating & Sexual Abuse
- Females are 2 to 3 more times more likely to experience sexual abuse that males
- Young women are at a greater risk of sexual assault, physical assault and murder than older women.
Watch for the following clues that a person may be experiencing dating violence
- signs of physical injury
- excessive absence from work or quitting work, poor work performance
- emotional outbursts, mood or personality changes
- isolation, keep to themselves
- drug or alcohol use
Women of all ages can take measures to prevent becoming abuse victims. Recognizing trouble signs is an important first step. It is equally vital for women to value themselves and take action to avoid partners who try and maintain power or control over their time, body and actions.
Safety Planning, Tips and Actions
- Consider double dating the first few times you go out with a new person
- Before leaving on a date know the exact plans for the evening and make sure a parent or friend knows these plans and what time to expect you home
- Let your date know you are expected to call or tell that person when you arrive at home
- Ensure that you have the resources to get home on your own
- Be aware of your decreased ability to react if under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- If you leave a party with someone you don't know, make sure you tell a reliable person your plans and whom you are with.
- Ask a friend to call and make sure you made it home safely
- Assert yourself when necessary
- Be firm and straightforward in your relationships
- Trust your instincts
- If a situation makes you feel uncomfortable, try to be calm and think of a way to remove yourself from the situation
Examine your relationship and encourage people who date to examine their relationships. Anyone in a relationship should consider whether they are:
- afraid of their partner
- made to feel stupid, useless or worthless
- being cut off from family and friends
- feeling forced into sexual activity
- being threatened with physical abuse
- being manipulated emotionally, such as "if you love me you will do as I want"
- experiencing physical abuse, such as shoving, grabbing, hitting, pinching or kicking
- witnessing wild mood swings, perhaps alternating between cruel and kind, almost as if there are two personalities
- receiving frequent promises their partner will change
- dating someone who denies or belittles past abuse that has occurred.
- encourage women facing abuse to talk to a trusted friend, family member, neighbour, health professional, faith leader, supervisor, co-worker or the local police
- explore perspective or current relationships by taking the quiz below
- Does your partner try to control everything you do?
- Are you discouraged from seeing family and friends?
- Are you put down, insulted and called names?
- Is your partner extremely jealous and possessive?
- Do you ever treat your partner as a possession?
- Do you blame or insult your partner for anything and everything that goes wrong?
- Do you prevent your partner from seeing other people without you?
If you answered yes to any of the above, you could be an abuser. Take responsibility, this is not love.