Interpersonal dating violence is defined as the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship. According to the CDC in 2006, an estimated 5.3 million interpersonal violence incidents occur each year in the U.S., resulting in approximately 2 million injuries and 1,300 deaths among women.
Dr. Jackson Katz was recently on Miami’s campus to give a speech on why gender violence is an issue for men. HAWKS Peer Educators then put on a program called “Escalation,” which focuses on interpersonal violence, as an add-on to what Dr. Katz gave a speech about. The Escalation program features a video depicting a relationship in which interpersonal violence is taking place, and follows with a discussion on what the warning signs were, what could have been done differently, and more. The Escalation program is provided by the One Love Foundation, which was started by the parents of Yeardley Love, a young woman who was killed as a result of interpersonal violence.
I attended the Escalation program and I now believe it is something all college students should have to see. Interpersonal violence is often overlooked by the victims and the friends and family of both people in the relationship. As someone with many personal connections to interpersonal violence, I firmly believe everyone should be aware of the warning signs and know what to do if they are worried. Here are a few reminders for everyone to keep in mind:
1. Do not let societal expectations make decisions for you.
If you are in a relationship and you don’t want to have sex, you don’t have to. It doesn’t matter if you have before or not. If you decide you don’t want to, do not tolerate a partner coercing you into it. Do not let thoughts like “we’re dating so I should want to” make you feel guilty for not wanting to. The choice is yours and should never be taken away from you.
2. Possessive and/or controlling behavior is not “cute.”
In books and movies, if a partner is possessive it is often portrayed as cute or something to be jealous of. It isn’t. Someone isolating you from friends or family isn’t normal. A partner getting irrationally jealous if you spend time with other people isn’t normal. A partner getting angry with you for not always prioritizing them isn’t normal. You are your own person outside of the relationship and they should acknowledge that and respect it.
3. Using guilt to manipulate you is not okay.
We often think that it’s romantic if someone says “I couldn’t live without you.” And sometimes, in a healthy context, it can be. But if that phrase or similar phrases are being used in a way to manipulate you into doing what they want or into staying with them, it isn’t healthy and it isn’t okay.
There are so many warning signs we can recognize that could help prevent interpersonal violence. If you have a friend who you think needs help, offer it to them. If you are someone who needs help, reach out to a friend or family number. Or you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at (800) 656-HOPE (4673).
Thank you to HAWKS Peer Educators at Miami for their informative and educational program.