February is National Dating Violence Awareness Month
by Jeannie Easter
Stokes Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Services
What is Dating Violence?
Dating violence is a pattern of abuse 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.
Every relationship 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.
Who Experiences Dating Violence?
Any teen or young adult can experience violence, abuse or unhealthy behaviors in their dating relationships. A relationship may be serious or casual, monogamous or not, short-term or long-term. Dating abuse does not discriminate — it does not see gender, sexual identity, economic status, ethnicity or religious preference.
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.
• Verbal or 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.
• Digital Abuse: Use of technologies and/or social media networking to intimidate, harass or threaten a current or ex-dating partner. This could include demanding passwords, checking cell phones, cyber bullying, and sexting, excessive or threatening texts or stalking on Facebook or other social media.
If you or a loved one is in a violent relationship, please get help. Call 336-593-9323.
Ten Warning Signs of Abuse
While there are many warning signs of abuse, here are ten common abusive behaviors:
• Checking your cell phone or email without permission
• Constantly putting you down
• Extreme jealousy or insecurity
• Explosive temper
• Isolating you from family or friends
• Making false accusations
• Mood swings
• Physically hurting you in any way
• Telling you what to do
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