Dating Violence

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Dating Violence/Abuse Hypocrisy


Youth Domestic
Violence PSA
Youth Balloon Mental Health PSA
Teen Dating Violence
Dating Abuse
Teenage Domestic Violence Note
Teenage Domestic Violence Note
Sexual Abuse - It's Not Your Fault Note
Scope of Practice

Note: Only shows men as perpetrators and weomen as victims.

Dating Violence/Abuse Hypocrisy

Irrationally held truths may be more harmful than reasoned errors.

October is domestic violence awareness month. Studies document the dangers presented in dating/domestic violence/abuse physical assaults that occur in our secondary schools and college campuses. It is generally agreed that this behavior often continues into adulthood.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control define dating violence as the physical, sexual, psychological or emotional violence within a dating relationship. The National Domestic Violence Hot Line (NDVH) defines abuse as a pattern of coercive control that one person exercises over another.

Dating violence/abuse studies consistently document that males and females equally abuse and/or physically assault each other. Despite these empirical studies, many advocates continue to dismiss the dangers of female initiation, claiming that most studies do not consider the “meaning, context, or consequences” of female assaultive behavior (O'Keefe, 2005).

Hypocritically, dating/domestic violence/abuse organizations and many research journals publish the ubiquitous “1 in 5 female high school victimization” data while ignoring male victimization. This “1 in 5 fact” was first published in Dating Violence Against Adolescent Girls Linked with Teen Pregnancy, Suicide Attempts, and Other Health Risk Behaviors, and was gleaned from the 1997-1999 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (MYRBS).

What many advocates ignore or are unaware of is the “fact,” that the MYRBS data advocates present as “fact” does not document the, “meaning, context or consequence.” And advocates also ignore or are unaware of the “fact” that the MYRBS does document male victimization.

Nationally the 2003 Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) documents that 8.9% of males and 8.8% of females report being a victim of physical dating abuse (CDC 2006). It is important that all advocates recognize that the risk factors of abusive incidents are escalated when someone, regardless of gender, initiates a physical assault. It is also important that everyone, regardless of age or gender, understand the significance of developing safe relationships (O'Keefe, 2005 & Whitaker, Haileyesus, Swahn & Saltzman).

Safety First

Most dating/domestic violence/abuse advocates claim that female offenders are not equally guilty of offending and they offer the following as “evidence” of that claim:

(1) Females are injured more often than males;

(2) Females seek medical treatment more often than males;

(3) Females fear for their safety more often than males; and

(4) Females are hurt emotionally more often than males (O'Keefe, 2005).

Advocates seem unwilling or unable to recognize that the above four factors are all consequences not the initiation of an event. Initiation is important for females and males as studies document that the primary predictor of dating violence physical assaults, is to physically assault another person first (O'Keefe, 2005 & Whitaker, Haileyesus, Swahn & Saltzman). And, most reasonable and prudent people understand that the initiation of an abusive event is not a defensive act.

Many advocates also seem unwilling or unable to acknowledge that the majority of dating/domestic violence/abuse incidents are minor (National Violence Against Women Survey). Domestic violence homicides are horrific events, however, they are rare events that still can not be predicted, prevented and they can not be presented as being representative of the vast majority of dating/domestic violence/abuse. In fact homicides in general are not representative of the behavior of most criminals.


A growing number of evidence-based studies empirically document the offending and initiation of dating/domestic violence/abuse by females. Many of these studies are by self-acknowledged feminists who are primarily concerned with female victimization. These studies should demonstrate to researchers, advocates, domestic violence agencies and public policy-makers that, even if they are only or primarily concerned female victimization, they need to address the issue of female initiation and male victimization.

If anyone argues that male victimization is not being minimized, marginalized or ignored by national advocacy organizations I suggest they simply have not visited the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence or the National Domestic Violence Hotline websites.

If it is our national collective goal to prevent or minimize dating/domestic violence/abuse, all nationally recognized domestic violence organizations must practice what they preach and recognize the context, circumstances, characteristics and causal factor of all offenders and victims (Teen Relationships Abuse Survey & Whitaker, Haileyesus, Swahn & Saltzman)

More boys and men may become engaged in prevention efforts if the dating and domestic violence/abuse organizations cease dismissing female initiation as insignificant and claiming that male victimization is so rare that it is inconsequential (Belknap & Melton, 2005).

It should be, but is not, obvious that equitable dating/domestic violence/abuse prevention and intervention efforts for females and males will reduce the victimization of both females and males. And, cause [initiation] is generally defined as that without which an effect or a phenomenon would not exist. Therefore if we are to effectively minimize or eliminate the negative consequence the proper cause [initiation] must be placed before the consequence (Straus, 2006).
Source: By Thomas H. Huxley,

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