Dating Violence Awareness Month
February means Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. It also marks the beginning of Dating Violence Awareness Month.
This is the perfect time to take a step back from the candy and gifts, take off the rose colored glasses, and understand the difference between healthy and unhealthy relationship behaviors.
Dating violence is controlling, abusive, and aggressive behavior towards an intimate partner. It can happen to anyone regardless of gender, race, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, socioeconomic standing, or culture.
A casual observer might get the impression that this form of violence is not as important as others because the partners are ‘just dating’. In reality, all forms of dating violence are very serious situations, and shouldn’t be ignored.
Dating violence means partners are not really partners - they are victim and abuser.
This type of violence is happening all over the world, and it’s happening right here in Oklahoma’s Indian Country. In fact, nearly half of all Native American women have been raped, beaten, or stalked by an intimate partner. *1
While any gender is susceptible abuse, young women aged 18-24 experience the highest rates of intimate partner violence in America. 2 These young women are experiencing new freedoms and responsibilities and shouldn’t be burdened with the fact that so many of their peers are in abusive relationships.
Attention young Native women: read and know the signs of abuse. “More than half of all college students report experiencing either abuse or controlling behaviors in a dating relationship while in college, with 70% reporting they were not aware they were in an abusive relationship at the time.” *3
Attention young Native men: read and know the signs of abuse. Just know that if you have experienced dating violence, you are not alone and you should not be ashamed. “One third (28%) of college men report having experienced either abuse or controlling behaviors in a dating relationship.” *3
It’s easy to look at a relationship from an outsider’s perspective and make judgments, but it can be very difficult for young people to recognize and address unhealthy behaviors.
Here is a list of different types of abuse. Source: https://www.breakthecycle.org/learn-about-dating-abuse
● Blaming you for their bad attitude or behavior
● Acting extremely jealous or possessive
● Being short tempered
● Threatening to kill them-self if you leave
● Telling you that you are unworthy
● Embarrassing you or calling you names
● Controlling your access to money
● Tells you what you can or cannot buy
● Interferes with your ability to work
● Gives you presents or money and expects favors in return
● Posting embarrassing photos of you online
● Using your social networking account without your permission
● Sending too many messages, making you feel unsafe
● Spreading rumors about you online or through texts
● Received messages that threatened you or made you feel scared
● Took pictures of video of you and sent them to others without your permission
● Someone posted bad things about you on the internet or to their friends
● Asking for sexts or nude photos of yourself
● Installing Spyware or other software to monitor daily activities
● Telling you what you can or cannot wear
● Not letting you see friends or family
● They have to be with you at all times
● Calling or texting you all the time to find out what you are doing, where you are, or who you are with
● Demanding that you prove your love
● Preventing you from getting a job
● Denying your access to birth control
● Unwanted kissing or touching
● Refusing to use condoms
● Pressuring someone into having sex
● Any sexual contact without consent
HOW TO HELP:
● Be able to spot the warning signs of unhealthy relationships
● Support your tribal and non-tribal domestic violence and sexual assault programs (you can find a list of them here). They have services specifically tailored for victims of violence.
● Share and model safe and healthy relationship skills
● Identify and call out toxic behaviors
● Speak out against violence
● Support victims of dating abuse and let them know that resources are available for them
● Hold abusers accountable for their crimes
We can all #Commit2Respect and agree to: -respect our partner’s decisions -agree to compromise -support each other’s goals -talk problems out -accept responsibility for our actions -work together to achieve goals and dreams
IF YOU FEEL THAT YOU ARE EXPERIENCING TEEN DATING VIOLENCE, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL TRIBAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE PROGRAM LISTED HERE, OR TEXT “LOVEIS” TO 22522 TO SPEAK WITH A NATIONAL ADVOCATE.
1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2010). The National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey.
2. Breiding, M.J., Chen J., & Black, M.C. (2014). Intimate Partner Violence in the United States — 2010. Atlanta, GA: National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
3. Fifth & Pacific Companies, Inc. (Formerly: Liz Claiborne, Inc.), Conducted by Knowledge Networks. (June 2011). College Dating Violence and Abuse Poll. Retrieved from https://www.breakthecycle.org/surveys.Poll,” Available at: https://www.breakthecycle.org/surveys.