Dating violence is here to stay, unfortunately. We too often hear of alleged cases of date rape on college campuses. Physical violence occurs in more than 20% of all dating relationships.
Rape is sexual intercourse, with actual penetration of a woman’s vagina with the man’s penis, without consent and accomplished through force, threat of violence, or intimidation, such as a threat to harm. Lack of consent includes such things as saying no or being too drunk or drug-influenced to be able to either resist or consent. Verbal sexual coercion is more likely to be used by men than women to obtain sex.
Date rape is rape that occurs on a voluntary, prearranged date or after a woman meets a man in a social setting and voluntarily accompanies him elsewhere. Many times coercion is used and the psychological damage is high. Most date rapes go unreported.
Physical violence often begins during courtship. Since you cannot change someone, the pattern of physical violence will often repeat itself. Both men and women are abusers, but women suffer more serious injuries. Social learning theory (we pattern ourselves after what we know) states that violence is learned in interactions in intimate personal groups such as families.
There are social factors that may contribute to the level of aggression. Those members from families of both very high and very low incomes in urban areas experience higher levels of aggression. One-parent families, those not close to their families, and those who experienced harsh discipline may have higher levels of aggression as well. People with poor grades who were suspended or expelled from school may also have higher levels of aggression. If one has a record of multiple firings from jobs, alcohol abuse, or life stresses such as illness, death in the family, job change, or move to a new home may show more aggression. People who dated early and had poor dating success may also be at risk.
Domestic violence usually starts with verbal aggression and may end if immediately challenged. From there it goes to recurring aggression with persistent, long-term interaction patterns. The abuser may have a need to get what they want. It may take therapeutic intervention such as counseling in order to change the pattern of aggression.
Some relationships will end. Women break off more relationships than men do. John Gottman, another self-help guru, calls the components of breaking up, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Dr. Gottman has years of research on this topic with men and women from all over the US. He runs marriage and relationship clinics throughout the country.
The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are:
All of these are evident to some extent in a break-up of a relationship/marriage. First one partner complains or criticizes the other partner. This results in mutual feelings of contempt. As these feelings intensify, first the partner being criticized becomes defensive, and then both partners react defensively. Eventually one partner, usually the male, stonewalls, or avoids interaction.
If you break up with someone, the best way to minimize the pain is to discuss your feelings as truthfully and tactfully as possible with the other person. If the other person breaks up with you, the best thing to do is to accept his/her feelings and get on with your life.
So, dating is relatively new in the US and is not practiced everywhere in the world. The industrial revolution and the automobile were great influences on the type of dating that we see in the US. There are as many reasons to date as there are people, and people look for different things in a date than in a marriage partner. Today dates can be found everywhere from bars to the internet. However, the best places are recommendations from friends and family because of your similar backgrounds. Dating has changed as men’s and women’s roles have changed in our society so that men no longer have to be initiators or have to pay for all dates. Problems can arise in dating but are best worked out through honest and open communication. Dating violence makes it imperative that we know whom we are with and where we are. Violence in dating usually does not stop after marriage. Breaking up is hard to do, but once done, you need to get on with your life.