No one wants to talk about dating abuse or intimate partner violence. It’s too heavy and uncomfortable and if we collectively say it out loud, that makes it real.
I’ve been sitting on this post for a minute now, but after watching the season finale of Real World: Bad Blood, it dawned on me how prevalent dating abuse really is. Disregard the scripted shows and gimmicky plot lines. The dynamic between Peter and Jen, two cast members, is eerily similar to at least a handful of relationships I’ve witnessed both in my personal life as well as professionally. You can probably name at least one couple you’re associated with who treads that line between crazy/dramatic and dysfunctional/ potentially dangerous.
A brief synopsis: Peter and Jen were only dating a few weeks before his controlling, manipulative persona surfaced. He called her names, belittled her in front of cast mates, and made her cry. A lot. Now, I don’t know about ya’ll, but I don’t enjoy crying. You get a 7- day headache, your eyes are blotchy/bloodshot, and your nose is runny. Basically, you look like shit. Jen STAYED crying over this man. Constantly insisting that he not yell at her, and what struck me in the midst of their arguments was that he never apologized. For anything. He always blamed her for everything.
Jenn admits on the show that she has been in an abusive relationship before. What is saddening about it is that she doesn’t even realize she’s repeating her own patterns. Click the link below:
Dating abuse or dating violence is defined as the perpetration or threat of an act of violence by at least one member of an unmarried couple on the other member within the context of dating or courtship. It is also when one partner tries to maintain power and control over the other through abuse/violence.
They try to make you feel as though they are always right, and you are wrong.
They give you disapproving or contemptuous looks or body language.
They accuse or blame you of things you know aren’t true.
They are intolerant of any seeming lack of respect.
They make excuses for their behavior, try to blame others, and have difficulty apologizing.
The repeatedly cross your boundaries and ignore your requests.
They blame you for their problems, life difficulties, or unhappiness.
They are emotionally distant or emotionally unavailable most of the time.
They don’t show you empathy or compassion.
They play the victim and try to deflect blame to you rather than taking personal responsibility.
They disengage or use neglect or abandonment to punish or frighten you.
They don’t seem to notice or care about your feelings.
They view you as an extension of themselves rather than as an individual.
I don’t think there’s enough dialogue in general about emotional abuse. I feel like women think they are being ‘dramatic’ or it’s not a big deal, if they have experienced any of this in a relationship. The reality is, you’re not being dramatic,it’s not okay. There’s not enough dialogue with men either in regards to this. We as women have to hold men accountable for their behaviors, and men have to hold each other accountable as well. 40% of African American women in this country experience dating abuse/intimate partner violence. I see it everyday, as I work in a shelter for pregnant women. The same stories, over and over again. When will we be strong enough to have difficult conversations about this? When will we hold ourselves to higher standards when cultivating a romantic relationship?
It’s not okay for a man to curse at you/yell at you. It’s not okay to be called names. It’s not okay for anyone to tell you what to do, who to spend time with, or where you can go. It’s not okay if you can’t apologize. If your friends/family all say the same thing about your partner’s disposition, perhaps they aren’t just ‘hating.’
Stop putting blinders on to a problem that actually is extremely pervasive in this country. You or someone you know has probably experience some form of dating abuse, they just don’t call it that. Don’t oversimplify it. In your heart, you know the truth.