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Intimate Partner Violence
Intimate Partner Violence
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Intimate Partner Violence

Youth

Intimate partner violence, which you may have heard called “teen dating violence” or “domestic violence,” is when a person behaves in a way to control another person in an intimate relationship. Intimate relationships exists between boyfriends and girlfriends, romantic partners, lovers or husbands and wives.

Intimate partner violence can take many forms, including different types of abuse, stalking and harassment. When intimate partner violence involves physical abuse, it may include hitting, punching or kicking. Emotional abuse between intimate partners may be harder to spot, but it includes name-calling, yelling or humiliating a partner. Emotional abuse can also include trying to control a partner by telling the other person what they can or cannot do and where they can or cannot go. Financial abuse in an intimate relationship may mean that one partner controls the other partner’s access to money, which could include keeping money from a partner or keeping them from working to make their own money. Intimate partner violence may also include stalking a partner—following them wherever they go and refusing to leave—or harassing them in person or by sending harassing texts, emails or posts. Intimate partner violence can also include sexual abuse—forcing a partner to engage in sexual behaviors without their permission. When two people are in a relationship, they still have to respect one another’s boundaries and ask for and receive consent for all sexual behaviors.

Regardless of what form intimate partner violence takes, it is meant to control a partner in a relationship, and it is never okay. Intimate partner violence is never the fault of the person being abused. A person who really cares about you will never try to physically harm you, control you, force you to do something you don’t want to do or make you feel bad about yourself. A person who truly cares for you will honor and respect you.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, talk to a trusted adult, like a parent, caretaker, school counselor or therapist. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline for help at 0800 150 150 (South Africa) or visit Trauma.org.za to chat with a counselor or search for one in your country of origin if not in South Africa.

Parents

As adults, we can prepare young people to have healthy relationships by ensuring they can distinguish healthy from unhealthy behaviors and know how to identify intimate partner violence (also known as domestic violence or teen dating violence). If and when young people feel ready to get into relationships, they should know that healthy relationships include open and honest communication, trust, physical and emotional safety and respect. It is also important that we talk with young people about intimate partner violence, so they do not mistake the controlling behaviors of intimate partner violence for love.

Intimate partner violence can take many forms, including abuse, stalking and harassment. Physical abuse between intimate partners may include hitting, punching or kicking. Emotional abuse involves belittling and humiliating a partner with name-calling and yelling as well as trying to control a partner by telling the other person what they can or cannot do and where they can or cannot go. While this type of intimate partner violence does not leave any physical evidence, it is just as harmful as physical abuse. Financial abuse in an intimate relationship includes controlling a partner’s access to money, which could include keeping money from a partner or keeping them from working to make their own money. Intimate partner violence may also include stalking a partner—following them wherever they go and refusing to leave—or harassing them in person or by sending harassing texts, emails or posts. Intimate partner violence can also include sexual abuse—forcing a partner to engage in sexual behaviors without consent. It is important that young people understand that even if two people are in a relationship, they should ask for and receive consent before engaging in any sexual behaviors with their partner.

Regardless of what form intimate partner violence takes, young people should know that it is never okay, and intimate partner violence is never the fault of the person being abused. Make sure your children and the young people in your care know that they can come to you or another trusted adult, like a school counselor or therapist, if they need help.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

While your child may not be dating or looking to get into a relationship right now, there may come a time when they feel that they are ready and want to take this step in their lives. As a parent, being familiar with the qualities of healthy relationships and talking to your child about them can help your child feel more comfortable approaching you with questions about these topics.

The easiest way to start these conversations is to talk about issues as they come up in everyday life, like while watching a show or movie together.

Here are some ways to start these conversations:

While watching a show or movie featuring either healthy or unhealthy relationship behaviors

If you are watching a show or movie and there is a scene with either healthy or unhealthy relationship behaviors, you can use this opportunity to start a discussion. Point out what you see, and ask what your child thinks about that.

When your child mentions friends or classmates that have romantic partners

Have dinner together and talk about what is going on in your tween’s life. When they mention friends or classmates that have romantic partners, you can then use this time to talk about healthy relationship qualities and behaviors. Ask if they think their friends and peers are in healthy or unhealthy relationships and to explain why they think so.

Educators

Educators can prepare young people to have healthy relationships by ensuring they can distinguish healthy from unhealthy relationships and know how to identify intimate partner violence (also known as domestic violence or teen dating violence). If and when young people feel ready to get into relationships, they should know that healthy relationships include open and honest communication, trust, physical and emotional safety and respect. It is also important that young people are educated about intimate partner violence, so they do not mistake the controlling behaviors of intimate partner violence for love.

Intimate partner violence can take many forms, including different types of abuse, stalking and harassment. Physical abuse between intimate partners may include hitting, punching or kicking. Emotional abuse involves belittling and humiliating a partner with name-calling and yelling as well as trying to control a partner by telling the other person what they can or cannot do and where they can or cannot go. While this type of intimate partner violence does not leave any physical evidence, it is just as harmful as physical abuse. Financial abuse in an intimate relationship includes controlling a partner’s access to money, which could include keeping money from a partner or keeping them from working to make their own money. Intimate partner violence may also include stalking a partner—following them wherever they go and refusing to leave—or harassing them in person or by sending harassing texts, emails or posts. Intimate partner violence can also include sexual abuse—forcing a partner to engage in sexual behaviors without consent. It is important that students understand that even if two people are in a relationship, they should ask for and receive consent before engaging in any sexual behaviors with their partner.

Regardless of what form intimate partner violence takes, young people should know that it is never okay, and intimate partner violence is never the fault of the person being abused. Make sure your students know that they can come speak with a school counselor or therapist, if they need help. They should also know about the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 0800 150 150 and Trauma.org.za (South Africa) where they can chat with a counselor. Make sure you are also familiar with the mandatory reporting laws in your country and that you know your responsibility for reporting suspected abuse.

Discussion Questions

After watching the video with your class, process it using the following discussion questions:
  • What are some examples of healthy relationships that you saw in the video?
  • Were there any examples of behaviors that might signal a relationship is unhealthy? If so, what were they?
  • What are some things you can do if you feel like a relationship is not healthy?