Physical abuse is any intentional and unwanted contact with you or something close to your body. Sometimes abusive behavior does not cause pain or even leave a bruise, but it’s still unhealthy.
Examples of physical abuse are:
- Scratching, punching, biting, strangling or kicking.
- Throwing something at you such as a phone, book, shoe or plate.
- Pulling your hair.
- Pushing or pulling you.
- Grabbing your clothing.
- Using a gun, knife, box cutter, bat, mace or other weapon.
- Smacking your bottom.
- Forcing you to have sex or perform a sexual act.
- Grabbing your face to make you look at them.
- Grabbing you to prevent you from leaving or to force you to go somewhere.
Sexual abuse refers to any action that pressures or coerces someone to do something sexually they don’t want to do. It can also refer to behavior that impacts a person’s ability to control their sexual activity or the circumstances in which sexual activity occurs, including oral sex, rape or restricting access to birth control and condoms.
It is important to know that just because the victim “didn’t say no,” doesn’t mean that they meant “yes.” When someone does not resist an unwanted sexual advance, it doesn’t mean that they consented. Sometimes physically resisting can put a victim at a bigger risk for further physical or sexual abuse.
Some think that if the victim didn’t resist, that it doesn’t count as abuse. That’s not true. It’s still is. This myth is hurtful because it makes it more difficult for the victim to speak out and more likely that they will blame themselves. Whether they were intoxicated or felt pressured, intimidated or obligated to act a certain way, it’s never the victim’s fault.
Some examples of sexual assault and abuse are:
- Unwanted kissing or touching.
- Unwanted rough or violent sexual activity.
- Rape or attempted rape.
- Refusing to use condoms or restricting someone’s access to birth control.
- Keeping someone from protecting themselves from sexually transmitted infections (STIs).
- Sexual contact with someone who is very drunk, drugged, unconscious or otherwise unable to give a clear and informed “yes” or “no.”
- Threatening someone into unwanted sexual activity.
- Repeatedly pressuring someone to have sex or perform sexual acts.
- Repeatedly using sexual insults toward someone.
Emotional abuse includes non-physical behaviors such as threats, insults, constant monitoring or “checking in,” excessive texting, humiliation, intimidation, isolation or stalking.
There are many behaviors that qualify as emotional or verbal abuse:
- Calling you names and putting you down.
- Yelling and screaming at you.
- Intentionally embarrassing you in public.
- Preventing you from seeing or talking with friends and family.
- Telling you what to do and wear.
- Using online communities or cell phones to control, intimidate or humiliate you.
- Blaming your actions for their abusive or unhealthy behavior.
- Stalking you.
- Threatening to commit suicide to keep you from breaking up with them.
- Threatening to harm you, your pet or people you care about.
- Making you feel guilty or immature when you don’t consent to sexual activity.
- Threatening to expose your secrets such as your sexual orientation or immigration status.
- Starting rumors about you.
- Threatening to have your children taken away.
You are being stalked when a person repeatedly watches, follows or harasses you, making you feel afraid or unsafe. A stalker can be someone you know, a past boyfriend or girlfriend or a stranger. While the actual legal definition varies from one state to another, here are some examples of what stalkers may do:
- Show up at your home or place of work unannounced or uninvited.
- Send you unwanted text messages, letters, emails and voicemails.
- Leave unwanted items, gifts or flowers.
- Constantly call you and hang up.
- Use social networking sites and technology to track you.
- Spread rumors about you via the internet or word of mouth.
- Make unwanted phone calls to you.
- Call your employer or professor.
- Wait at places you hang out.
- Use other people as resources to investigate your life. For example, looking at your facebook page through someone else’s page or befriending your friends in order to get more information about you.
- Damage your home, car or other property.
Dating violence can take place in person or electronically (such as repeated texting, posting sexual pictures of a partner online, cyberstalking, cyber harassment, etc.). Unhealthy relationships can start early in life and last a lifetime. Teens often think behaviors like teasing and name calling are a “normal” par of a relationship, but these behaviors can become abusive and develop into more serious forms of violence.
Why is dating violence a problem?
Dating violence is a widespread issue that has serious long-term and short-term effects. Many teens do not report it because they are afraid to tell friends and family.
According to the Center for Disease Control
- Among adult victims of rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner, 22% of women and 15% of men first experienced some for of partner violence between the ages of 11 and 17.
- Approximately 9% of high school students report being hit, slapped, or physically hurt on purpose by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the 12 months before surveyed.
How does dating violence effect health?
Dating violence can have a negative effect on health throughout life. Youth who are victims are more likely to experience symptoms of depression and anxiety, engage in unhealthy behaviors, like using tobacco, drugs and alcohol, or exhibit antisocial behaviors and think about suicide. Youth who are victims of dating violence in high school are at a higher risk for victimization during college as well.
Who is at risk for dating violence?
According the the Center for Disease Control, factors that increase risk for harming a dating partner include…
- Belief that dating violence is acceptable.
- Depression, anxiety and other trauma symptoms.
- Aggression towards peers and other aggressive behavior.
- Substance abuse.
- Early sexual activity and having multiple sexual partners.
- Having a friend involved in dating violence.
- Conflict with partner.
- Witnessing or experiencing violence in the home.
Want to learn more about dating violence?
- Contact our prevention educator by phone 941-627-6000 or by email.
- CDC’s Dating Matters: Strategies to Promote Healthy Teen Relationships www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/datingmatters
- National Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474 or text 77054
- Love is Respect: www.loveisrespect.org
- National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
- National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
- National Sexual Violence Resource Center: www.nsvrc.org