Less Obvious, but No Less Harmful
October 2, 2009
“Domestic violence.” “Dating abuse.” These terms probably stir up images of a woman with a black eye or some other kind of visible bruise. While physical violence is a reality for many people (of all genders) who experience abuse from a partner, it hardly tells the whole story. Abuse is not always so in your face; it can be subtle or not immediately obvious.
For teens experiencing dating abuse from a partner, coercion is one of those types of abuse that may not be immediately obvious. Coercion is when one partner talks or manipulates another partner into doing something she or he did not really want to do. The coercive partner might use sweet talk or make threats. No matter how it looks, it’s wrong and it is not a part of a healthy relationship.
Coercion, particularly sexual coercion, can have a huge negative impact on people. For someone coerced into unprotected sexual activities, the result could be a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or possibly an unplanned pregnancy. When you don’t feel like you have choices in your relationship, or your choices are not respected, you can start to feel trapped or hopeless.
If you find yourself saying, “Well, my partner talked me into…” or “It didn’t seem like ‘no’ was an option,” that’s a red flag. Each of us-no matter how we identify or with whom we partner-deserves a relationship based on respect. While studies have shown that the most common dating or domestic violence scenario is a man abusing a woman, dating violence occurs in all kinds of relationships. There is no one type of person who abuses, and no one type of person who is abused.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. To learn more about dating abuse, recognizing the signs and how to help a friend or yourself, visit Love is Respect.