Dating Violence

Frequently asked questions

Does violence only happen between adult couples?

No. Violence can occur in any type of relationship (in friendships, dating and romantic relationships, in married couples, in working relationships, and others). In the media domestic violence is often portrayed as something that only happens in adult relationships. This is not true. Violence can also occur in teenage dating relationships. There have been some studies about this and they have concluded that there are more experiences of violence between young people who go out together than between adults who are married or partners. Abuse in any relationship is unacceptable.

What kind of abusive behaviours can happen in dating relationships?

Verbal and psychological abuse (such as screaming, calling names, criticising, humiliating the other in front of other people, throwing objects) are usually the most common forms of abuse in teenage dating relationships. It is very important not to underestimate the seriousness of these abusive behaviours, especially as often they follow a continuous pattern (that is, it is repeated over time) and escalates (the type of violence used becomes more serious, more dangerous, more intense and more frequent). Remember, abuse in relationships is never acceptable.

Can sexual violence occur in dating couples?

Yes. Just because you are going out with someone, it does not mean you are obliged to have sex with them. The decision to start being sexually active with someone should be one that is taken freely by each person in the relationship, in discussion with each other (discussion is important to understand what each person wants, expects, is anxious about, is afraid of etc.). However, sexual violence can occur in dating relationships. Often the people involved in the relationship do not identify what happened as sexual violence (for example, they think it is  ‘normal’ to give in and have sex because the boyfriend/girlfriend insists so much or threatens to break up if they don't have sex).

Who is more likely to abuse: a boy or a girl?

The likelihood of girls being abusive is the same as the likelihood of boys being abusive but the forms of abuse they use are typically different:

- girls usually apply forms that don't require the use of physical force (such as insulting, screaming, shaming the other);
- boys use physical violence more easily (for example, hitting, pushing, restraining) and they are more likely to physically hurt the other or cause injuries.

What can I do if one of my friends gets involved in a violent dating relationship?

Helping and supporting a friend who is involved in a violent dating relationship is very important to enable him/her to put an end to it. So, if you know someone who is a victim of violence, there are things you can do to help. Read What should I do? to know more. Also, if you know someone who is being violent in a relationship you should draw her/his attention to the fact that what he/she is doing is wrong. You can let him/her know that they can seek help and that this could make a huge difference!

Is violence understandable because of cheating or betrayal?

No. Violence is never justified, regardless of the other's behaviour or possible mistakes. Violence is a wrong way to solve problems and deal with relationship conflicts and challenges. If you are betrayed, the best option is always to talk, express clearly what you are feeling and maybe end the relationship (if you don't think you are able to trust that person again). See How to end a relationship? for more information.