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What is Dating Violence? - Facts & Statistics

Instructor: Michael Quist

Michael has taught college-level mathematics and sociology; high school math, history, science, and speech/drama; and has a doctorate in education.

Dating can be a very exciting part of your life, but when someone starts bullying, then it's not okay. In this lesson, we'll discuss what dating violence is, what it looks like, and the warning signs to watch for.

What is Dating Violence?

Dating can be so much fun! When you find a friend who seems to understand you so well, someone you love to spend your time with, and someone who seems like such a great person, you might start hoping for a special relationship. There are many kinds of emotions involved in young dating situations, and sometimes one member of the friendship can become a bully or predator. That's when dating violence begins.

Dating violence is any time one member of a dating relationship becomes a bully, deliberately causing physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional damage to the other. It can happen when you're together, when one of you is secretly watching the other (stalking), or in online, phone, or mail situations. It can happen with someone you're dating now, or with someone you dated before. Dating violence is never ''normal'' behavior, and it's never appropriate or ''okay''.

Examples of Dating Violence

For example, perhaps you're a girl and you're headed to a movie with a guy that you like. It's kind of a boring movie, and he starts getting a little 'fresh' with his hands. You really like him, but you don't want to engage in sex, so you push his hands back, shake your head, and say ''Please don't do that. Let's just watch the movie.'' Well, he likes the idea of sexual adventure more than watching the movie, so he doesn't stop, and you get more and more uncomfortable. This is a form of dating violence. Your date has no right to force any kind of sexual advances on you that you don't want.

Maybe you're a guy, and you take your girlfriend to the theme park. You spend the day enjoying the rides and the games. You get a little tired, something you say makes her unhappy, and she decides to slap you. You draw back, a little confused, and she slaps you again. ''Hey, come on, I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. Stop hitting me.'' But she won't let it go. That's dating violence. Your dating partner has no right to strike you. It's just as inappropriate as if you had hit her.

Maybe it's just words. Your date keeps talking about how stupid you are, or ugly, or something else that makes you feel bad. He won't let it go. He keeps talking you down, and you don't know what to do. You really like him, but the words hurt. That's dating violence. In fact, psychological violence can be every bit as damaging as physical violence. When someone you like starts insulting you, making you feel low, excluding you, putting you down, threatening you, or doing something else to make you feel like less of a person, then they're abusing you. It's a form of violence, and it builds up, causing more and more damage to you.

It's Common

Every year, 1.5 million high school students experience some form of physical dating violence. They may be sexually assaulted (forced to have some sort of sex), struck, pushed, slapped, or in some other way injured.

  • One third of all adolescents in the United States experiences some form of dating violence.
  • One tenth of high school students across America have been struck or injured by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • One out of five high school girls will report physical or sexual abuse.
  • Between 16 and 19, 94% of dating violence to girls comes from someone they dated before.
  • Violent behavior starts as early as age 12, and typically before 18.

Boys and Girls have Different Expressions of Violence

Although boys and girls both may decide to become violent in a relationship, the forms are different. Girls will tend toward less physical forms. Girls tend to use less strength-dependent forms:

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