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Most of us want love. We want to feel connected, to be appreciated, and to be accepted for who we are. But the search for that love isn’t always fruitful — and can sometimes even be dangerous.
In fact, instances of dating abuse and domestic violence are more prevalent than you may think, making it vital to provide love-seeking singles with the important — albeit disturbing — facts.
Through our research, we have compiled a list of six statistics surrounding dating abuse and domestic violence, as well as a brief list of resources to help victims or their loved ones. Take heed of the following information and stay informed of the potential risks.
There is certainly no demographic safe from the wrath of sexual violence, but the disparity between men and women is too significant to ignore. According to some disturbing statistics provided by the CDC, women are 11 times more likely than men to be the victims of rape, with 19.3% of women reporting having endured the act of sexual violence versus 1.7% of men.
What’s more, approximately 9% of the time the rape was carried out by the woman’s intimate partner — a disturbing reflection of the misogyny and harmful social norms that have yet to be filtered out of our modern society. An equally staggering portrayal of how our communities and governments have failed sexual violence victims is evidenced by the fact that it only became illegal in the United States to rape your spouse in July 1995.
The internet can be a wonderful resource for learning, growing, and fostering connections in ways that may not have been possible otherwise. However, users must be warned: The internet can be a dangerous place. It has shifty, sneaky characters lurking in the shadows with less-than-good intentions, waiting to take advantage of innocent victims — in more ways than one. The anonymity of the internet makes that much easier, especially when the targets may be younger and more naive about online dangers.
According to a research study published by the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, approximately 25% of teen respondents claimed to be victims of cyber abuse. This includes online harassment, stalking, cyberbullying, and sharing private and/or sexual photos without the owner’s permission. Reflective of the same gender disparity mentioned in the first statistic, results also showed that females reported more cases of cyber abuse than males, particularly in the category of sexual cyber abuse.
As the internet continues to grow, we should assume that acts of cyber violence will never fully go away. However, if we can educate young people on the signs and signals to look out for, we can empower them to make smarter, safer decisions online.
Living in a society where rape culture is a deep-rooted issue, this statistic comes as a surprise. Based on a study conducted by loveisrespect.org, approximately 58% of college students stated that they didn’t know how to help someone suffering and/or recovering from dating abuse.
Above all, this demonstrates a disappointing — and dangerous — lack of education and awareness present in our schools. Moving forward, it will be vital to vote into power those who will demand more from our university protocols and practices, particularly as it pertains to campus safety and educational initiatives surrounding sexual abuse and assault.
More commonly known acts of physical domestic violence may include hitting, slapping, kicking, restraint, rap, or any combination of these. The severity of this kind of violence escalates, of course, when weapons are involved. According to a special report published by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, this happens a lot more frequently than you may think.
Based on the data collected by the U.S. Department of Justice, 19% of reported domestic violence cases involved the use of a weapon. More than just alarming, this statistic highlights the urgent need for change regarding the accessibility and policies surrounding weapons in America.
Owning a gun doesn’t necessarily mean you will commit a violent act, but studies show that the presence of one does increase the risk of death at the hands of a domestic violence perpetrator. According to another study on domestic violence, a woman is “five times more likely to be murdered when her abuser has access to a gun.” With stricter policies and practices, we can limit this access and save lives.
Although the evidence shows a glaring disparity between men and women when it comes to victims of domestic violence, it should be considered that gender norms and societal expectations surrounding masculinity may influence how domestic violence cases against men are perceived.
Men, too, suffer at the hands of domestic abusers. In fact, studies show that one in every nine men experiences physical acts of violence committed by intimate partners. What’s more, according to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, 2.7% of men versus 1.6% of women report having been slapped by their partner.
Though the difference may be slight, an important insight can be derived from these findings: We’ve got to ditch the stigma and open up the discourse surrounding men and domestic violence. The more we can raise awareness and dispel the myth that “men can’t be victims,” the more we create a safe space for male victims to come forward and share their stories.
Victims of physical and/or sexual abuse face many obstacles when seeking medical attention after an attack. In fact, these obstacles are so significant that a shocking 66% of the time, victims choose not to seek help at all. At the root of this disappointing statistic is victim blaming, a phenomenon still quite prevalent in our culture.
Victim blaming can sound like “They shouldn’t have been drinking that much,” or “Look at their outfit? They were definitely asking for it.” Attitudes such as that shift the fault away from the perpetrator and onto the victim, making it difficult for them to be believed if they choose to share their story. Consequently, they typically don’t.
Many victims also refrain from seeking medical care after their abusers threaten them. Perpetrators fear that the doctor or hospital visit will raise unwanted questions, putting the abuser at risk of being reported and punished. Unsurprisingly, the abuser will often do anything in their power to prevent this from happening.
Lastly, victims of domestic violence are often in denial of what’s happening to them. They may believe their partner is hurting them out of love, that this was “just a one-time thing,” or that the injuries aren’t as bad as they seem. Either way, many victims will choose to protect their abuser. And if this means not seeking treatment for their wounds, that’s likely what they’ll do.
While this may not make sense to an outsider, it’s vital to remember that victims have been manipulated — whether physically, emotionally, psychologically, or even financially — into believing that this behavior is acceptable. It is often not until later that a victim reaches a more clear understanding of what’s being done to them.
As with any social issue, the more we create dialogue around it, the more that knowledge empowers us all. In the battle against dating abuse, it’s imperative that we continue to educate our communities (and particularly our youth) about the signs of abuse.
This could create a generation of people who know the difference between relationships that are healthy and those that are not and even what to do when unhealthy relationships become harmful.
This leads us to the next necessary solution: Resources for help. Many exist, both locally and federally run, but here are a few of the most prominent ones to know about:
Dating abuse is incredibly damaging, pervasive, and long-lasting. But with the help of education and accessible resources, we can put in the work to create societal changes from the ground up.