Domestic violence and abuse (also known as Intimate Partner Violence, or amongst teenagers Teen Dating Violence and Abuse) is a pattern of actual or threatened acts of physical, sexual, and/or emotional abuse, perpetrated by one partner against a current or former dating partner. Abuse may include exercising control, insults, coercion, social sabotage (i.e. public humiliation), sexual harassment, threats and/or acts of physical, emotional and/or sexual abuse.
All of this abuse stems from the desire to exercise power and control over another. This diagram below illustrates the Cycle of Power and Control that is at the kernel of all abusive relationships.
THE CYCLE OF POWER AND CONTROL
There are three distinct phases in this powerful and escalating cycle. Relationships often start in the honeymoon phase. This can make it especially confusing and scary when the explosion phase happens for the first time. Each phase might be as short as a few seconds, or as long as several years. Over time, the honeymoon phase may get smaller and shorter as the explosions become more violent and dangerous.
- 1 Honeymoon The phase where the relationship begins and where the partner is sweet, caring and supportive. This is also the stage that follows an explosion. During this stage, the abuser will try and make you forgive and forget whatever just happened in the Explosion phase. They might do this by:
- Saying “I love you.”
- Apologizing and promising that it will never happen again.
- Buying you flowers or other gifts.
- Saying that you did something to cause the abuse or blames the explosion on other things, such as being drunk or stressed out.
- 2 Tension Building This is when things start to get tense in the relationship. You begin to feel like:
- You have to tip-toe around your boyfriend or girlfriend so you don’t make them mad.
- You can’t do anything right and that you’re getting blamed for things.
- The person you’re with is always trying to start arguments or fights with you.
- 3 Explosion There is an outburst of abuse that can include physical, sexual, verbal and/or emotional abuse. The abuser may:
- Physically abuse you by hitting, kicking, pushing, choking, etc.
- Scream and yell in a way that scares or humiliates you.
- Rape or force you to go further sexually than you want to.
- Threaten to hurt you., something you care about or him/her self.
- Break something you care about .
Dating violence or abuse can occur in intimate relationships between people from ages pre-teen through adulthood. However, studies have shown that the issue is most prevalent between the high school and college years (14-22 years old). Teenagers are at particular risk because they are new to relationships, are statistically the least likely to disclose incidents and typically have much less of an established network of trusted friends to turn to and confide in.
Additional challenges in addressing this issue include contending with the well established myths commonly associated with this issue
Myth: It can’t happen to me, or in my town, or amongst my friends and family (the NIMBY myth, Not In My Backyard)
FACT: 1 in 3 women in their lifetime will suffer through an abusive relationship. 1 in 4 teens report experiencing some type of abuse by a dating partner (physical, verbal, emotional mental, or sexual).
Other studies conclude that 1 in 5 high school students will be in a physically abusive relationships (where they are hit, kicked or punched)
Myth: That although a relationship may be unhealthy, it's really not ever going to lead to anything seriously wrong (i.e. have life-altering or lethal consequences).
FACT: Thirty percent of all women who are murdered in this country are killed by their husband or boyfriend. According to a Massachusetts study that same high percentage applied to teen women aged 15-19, as well. Also, 60% of all rapes reported to rape crisis centers are committed by acquaintances, and the majority of victims are aged 16-24.This amounts annually to more women that are killed at the hands of those they know, than the total number of US soldiers that die on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
The additional statistics that further debunk these myths include:
Around the world, at least one in every three women will be beaten, coerced into sex or otherwise abused during her lifetime
- Women of all races are about equally vulnerable to violence by an intimate.
- Over the past 5 years more women have been killed in and around their homes as a result of domestic violence than the total number of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined.
- Every year in the U.S. there are over 3 million incidents of domestic violence reported. That means that every 9 seconds someone is being beaten by their domestic partner!
- A 2005 study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that domestic violence affects the lives of 32 million people each year across the country
- On average, more than three women are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends in this country every day.
- Domestic violence causes more injuries to women in the U.S. between the ages of 15 and 44 than car accidents, muggings and rapes combined. • Almost 1/3 of all emergency room visits for women between the ages of 18-44 are a direct and immediate result of domestic violence
- Within many issues around domestic violence represents 1/3 of the police force’s time, and 1/3 of the court system’s time
- 1 in 5 girls in college will be the target of date rape or sexual assault
- It’s estimated, by the U.S. Dept. of Justice, that these incidents are 95% under reported, and that the real number and rates are significantly higher
- Forty percent of girls age 14 to 17 report knowing someone their age who has been hit or beaten by a boyfriend.
- In a national survey of more than 6,000 American families, 50 percent of the men who frequently assaulted their wives also frequently abused their children.
- Slightly more than half of female victims of intimate violence live in households with children under age 12.
- Studies suggest that between 3.3 - 10 million children witness some form of domestic violence annually.
- Each year about 324,000 pregnant women in the U.S. are battered by the men in their lives.
- Men who as children were exposed to their parents' domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own wives than sons of nonviolent parents.
- One recent study of 2,245 children and teenagers found that recent exposure to violence in the home was the most significant factor in predicting a child’s violent behavior.
- Children who are exposed to domestic violence are more likely to exhibit behavioral and physical health problems including depression, anxiety, and violence towards peers. They are also more likely to attempt suicide, abuse drugs and alcohol, run away from home, engage in teenage prostitution, and commit sexual assault crimes.
- Abused children are arrested by the police four times more often than non-abused children
- In Massachusetts alone more than 55 women were killed in 2007 as a result of domestic violence
- More than 11,000 restraining orders were issued in Massachusetts in 2007
- According to a Harvard study, 1 in 5 girls in MA public schools have been hit, kicked, or punched by a dating partner