As of now, there is no federal law that requires dating violence education in schools. While some states have passed their own laws, there is no mandate that gives every student the opportunity to learn about intimate partner abuse. We, at The Mary Byron Project, hope this will change. We hope that one day every high school across the nation will be equipped to engage students in conversation about dating violence.
The Mary Byron Scholars at Assumption High School (Mary’s alma mater) exemplify the value of such education and awareness. The Mary Byron Foundation currently sponsors a three-year $2,000 per year scholarship as a tuition grant for students who maintain a 3.50 GPA and wish to undertake a leadership opportunity among their peers and in the community relating to domestic violence. This past year, six girls were awarded this scholarship and granted the power to be aware and spread awareness.
Dating Violence is often a precursor to Domestic Violence. The two are obviously linked, and one inherently follows the other. As Marjorie Gilberg of “Break the Cycle” recently said, “We know that education is the best way to prevent dating violence from happening and by educating people when they’re young, we can really give them an opportunity for a lifetime of healthy relationships.” We urge you to check out Break The Cycle and see what they’re doing to make our world a better place.
In that vein, please peruse the following information. It could help save your life — or help you save someone else’s.
(Thanks to The Center for Women and Families for much of this information.)
Dating Violence & Date Rape
If you think it can’t happen to you, you’re wrong…
Dating Violence includes verbal, emotional, sexual, or physical abuse used by one person to control their partner. While physical abuse is more immediately damaging, emotional abuse may be longer lasting and ultimately more damaging.
FACTS AND STATISTICS ABOUT RAPE
- Approximately 80% of all rapes are acquaintance rapes
- Women between the ages of 15 and 24 are at the highest risk for acquaintance rape
- Rape is not about sex. It is about Violence and Control.
- Acquaintance rapists usually use Fear, Intimidation, and Manipulation as their weapons instead of physical force.
- Approximately half of all acquaintance rapes involve the use of alcohol.
- One out of 4 women will be raped in her lifetime
- One out of 3 women will be the victim of some sort of dating violence in her lifetime.
- The aftermath of rape can last the rest of a person’s life.
- Convicted rapists may serve 20+ years in jail or they may serve 20 minutes in jail.
WHAT IF SOMEONE YOU KNOW HAS BEEN RAPED?
It is extremely difficult for rape survivors to discuss their victimization with anyone. They may be afraid; they may be in shock or denial; they may blame themselves. Because of this, it is imperative that when victims do tell of the assault, they are met with empathy and support. It is difficult to know how to react when you find out that someone you know has been sexually victimized. Here are some statements you may wish to say to someone who tells you she has been assaulted:
- You’re safe now.
- It wasn’t your fault
- I’m here to listen any time you need to talk
- I believe you
- I still accept, love and care for you.
If the assault has occurred within 48 hours, you should advise them to do the following:
- Do not bathe, shower or douche
- Save the clothing worn at the time of or immediately after the rape.
- Go to the hospital.
N.B.: If the rape survivor is under 18 years of age, the rape must be reported to the police.
SOME WAYS TO REDUCE YOUR RISK OF RAPE
- Learn about your date’s attitude toward women
- Avoid alcohol and other drugs. Be aware of your date’s use of them, too.
- Don’t leave your drink alone or drink something you didn’t get or open yourself. A “date-rape drug” can cause intense drunkenness, difficulty moving and memory loss.
- Make your limits clear before you get into a sexual situation.
- Drive yourself, go with another couple, or arrange your own transportation is you don’t know you date well.
- Avoid secluded places, such as park or deserted beaches. Meet in public where help, should you need it, will be nearby.
FACTS AND STATISTICS ABOUT DATING VIOLENCE
- Violence can occur at any time in a relationship and usually gets worse over time.
- Violence may occur between couples of all ages, races and incomes.
- People who are violent toward their partner usually blame the other person for their actions.
- Remember: You cannot control what another person does. It is not your fault. He can break up with you or divorce you — he chooses to physically, emotionally and/or sexually abuse you.
- Violence in relationships as every bit as much a crime as random acts of violence.
- Assault is against the law, no matter the relationship between attacker and victim.
- In fact, violence between intimate partners is made worse by the emotional component.
- Studies show that a woman is battered by her boyfriend or husband every 12-15 seconds.
- According to the FBI, 30% of female homicides are killed by their husbands or boyfriends.
MY RIGHTS IN DATING
- I have the right to refuse a date without feeling guilty.
- I may choose to flirt without obligation. Flirting does not equal “asking for it.”
- If I don’t want physical intimacy, I have the right to say no.
- I have the right to start a relationship slowly.
- I have the right to be myself and not change to suit others.
- I have the right to change my relationship if my feelings change.
- I have the right to an equal relationship
- If the relationship changes, I have the right to not blame myself or change myself in an effort to maintain it.
- I have the right not to dominate or be dominated
- I have the right to act one way with one person and a different way with someone else.
- I have the right to change my goals whenever I want.
- I have the right to end a date if I feel uncomfortable.
- I have the right to ask for help if I need it.
THE CYCLE OF VIOLENCE
If you find yourself becoming afraid when your partner gets angry, you may already be caught in the Cycle of Violence. The typical three stages of the cycle are:
- Tension Building
- Abuser becomes increasingly angry
- Signs may include pushing, staring, shouting, gesturing or other threatening behaviors.
- Violent Episodes
- Incident may be of an emotional, physical or sexual nature
- With each cycle, the time between violent episodes grows shorter
- Making up
- The abuser is “sorry”
- Promises to never hurt you again
- Abuser may act very kind and generous — buy you presents, etc.
… And the cycle continues.
WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW IS A DV VICTIM?
In 2006, The Mary Byron Project awarded a Celebrating Solutions grant to The Texas Council on Family Violence. Not only does the Council operate the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH), the organization also has done an admirable job creating public awareness by targeting the friends and families of those affected. In 2001, they launched the “BREAK THE SILENCE, MAKE THE CALL” campaign at the Texas State Capitol.
If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7723). The TTY number is 1-800-787-3224. A call to the Hotline is anonymous and can provide you with counseling and advice, and put you in direct contact with service providers in your community.
Break the silence. Make the call.
 Adapted from the original concept of: Walker, Lenore. The Battered Woman. New York: Harper and Row, 1979.