Domestic violence is emotional, verbal, physical, or sexual abuse that happens between people who have had a dating, intimate/sexual or family relationship now or at any time in the past.
Domestic violence can happen in both gay and straight relationships, and it can happen to people in long-term relationships or who only date casually every once in a while or have only dated once. It can include people who live together and people who don’t.
Just to be really clear here, dating violence is in fact, domestic violence. Some people think that domestic violence can only happen to adults if they’re married or living together, but it can happen to anyone no matter what age. If someone does something to control you, put you down, or hurt you, it’s violence and it’s not okay. And because dating violence is considered domestic violence, all the laws that apply to and protect adults also apply to you.
A lot of people do not report this abuse for a lot of different reasons. But even if it isn’t reported, it’s against the law. People being hurt or controlled in a relationship have a right to ask for help.
Examples of domestic and dating violence
Physical abuse including pinching, hitting, pulling hair, slapping or anything that hurts your body.
Verbal abuse including name-calling, insults, and purposefully saying things in front of other people that hurt or embarrass you.
Controlling behavior like saying what you can or can’t wear, being extremely jealous or possessive, keeping you away from your friends or family, controlling who you see or what you do, or calling, IMing, or texting you constantly to find out where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re with.
Sexual assault including touching you when you don’t wish to be touched, touching you in places that you don’t want to be touched, not listening when you say no to sex, or forcing you to do sexual things that you do not want to do.
Emotional abuse, such as threatening to kill you or your family members, friends or pets, threatening to commit suicide, acting like the abuse is your fault or that it’s no big deal, or simply denying that abuse is happening.
I was shocked to learn how often extreme cases of domestic violence can end in death. If you or someone else that you know is a victim of violence in a relationship, it may be hard to ask someone for help, but getting support is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
Domestic violence can be really intense and sometimes it’s hard to see that you’re in a violent or controlling situation. If you think you might be, try talking to a close friend or family member that you trust – someone who can be there for you if you need their support. If you feel like you have nobody to talk to, there are resources that can help.
If you or someone you know is dealing with violence in a relationship, call Massachusetts’ SafeLink at (877) 785-2020. TTY callers, dial (877) 521-2601. You can also call the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline at (866) 331-9474. TTY callers, dial (866) 331-8453.