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Dating Violence

If you are a victim of dating violence or need help call our hotline
at (800) 688-6157. Our advocates are available 24 hours a day,
7 days a week. Your call is confidential. 

What is Dating Violence?

Dating violence is controlling, abusive and aggressive behavior against a person on a date or a current or former dating partner. It can occur in person or electronically.

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Take Dating Violence Seriously

Teens and young adults may think some behaviors, like teasing and name-calling, are a normal part of romantic relationships. However, these behaviors have the potential to become abusive and develop into serious forms of violence. 

It is important not to minimize the seriousness, or criminal nature of physical, emotional, psychological, or sexual aggression, simply because they occurred within a dating relationship, or on a date. 

About Dating Violence

Anyone can experience dating violence, regardless of their age or phase of life. But unhealthy relationships frequently start early—in teenage and young adult years—and can last a lifetime

  • Fact: Sexual assault and abuse includes the following:
    Rape—sexual intercourse against a person's will Forcible sodomy—anal or oral sex against a person's will Forcible object penetration—penetrating someone's vagina or anus, or causing that person to penetrate her or himself, against that person's will Marital rape Unwanted sexual touching Sexual contact with minors, whether consensual or not Incest (sexual intercourse or sexual intrusion between family members) Any unwanted or coerced sexual contact Other sexual crimes include: Sexual harassment Solicitation of minors through the Internet Possession of child pornography
  • Myth: "It can't happen to me.""
    Fact: Yes, it can. Sexual violence can happen to anyone – regardless of gender, race, age, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, or religion. Victims of sexual assault include infants, adults in later life, people of color, LGBT individuals, individuals with disabilities, women and men. In West Virginia, it is estimated that 1 in 6 adult women and 1 in 21 adult men will be a victim of an attempted or completed sexual assault in her/his lifetime. According to a National Crime Victimization Survey in 2000, teens 16 to 19 are 4 times more likely to be victims of rape than the general population. Ages 12-24 are the highest risk years. According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), 15% of victims are under the age of 12.
  • Myth: "Sexual violence can sometimes be the victim's fault.""
    Fact: Sexual violence is NEVER the victim's fault. It doesn't matter if someone was dressed seductively, drinking or using drugs, out at night alone, on a date with the perpetrator. No one asks to be raped. The responsibility and blame lie with the perpetrator, never with the victim. The absence of injuries often suggests to others that the victim failed to resist and, therefore, must have consented. Often, rapists only need the threat of violence to control their victims. They also sometimes use drugs to incapacitate their victims. Some victims submit to the assault for fear of greater harm. Submitting does not mean the victim gave consent. Each rape victim does whatever she/he needs to do at the time in order to survive.
  • Myth: "If a child I know was being sexually abused, she/he would tell me right away.""
    Fact: Because they are confused by the abuse, feel responsible, or are being threatened by the abuser, children don't automatically tell a parent. Be sure to talk frequently and openly about sexual abuse with your child. The more they know and the more comfortable they feel talking to you, the more willing they may be to report sexual abuse.
  • Myth: "Males should be able to prevent their rape.""
    Fact: Many people mistakenly believe that men should be able to prevent the assault by putting up a fight. A common belief is that if a man failed to fight off an attack, he is weak. No rape victim – male or female, gay or straight – should be judged for failure to stop an assault. Some people also believe that if the victim is homosexual or had an erection during the assault, he enjoyed it. A sexual response is physiological and not within the victim's control – just because his body reacted sexually does not mean he enjoyed the abuse.
  • Myth: "Rape can't happen in a dating relationship.""
    Fact: Rape is rape, no matter what the relationship is between the victim and perpetrator. Rape is not just committed by strangers. In 2009, 46.6% of assaults were committed by an acquaintance, 7.4% of those were by an intimate partner. Everyone has the right to change their mind – including about sex. One form of sexual contact does not necessarily open the door to other sexual activity. Even if two people have had sex before, one does not have the right to force sex on the other. There are many ways a person can be forced into sexual activity. Sometimes perpetrators use physical force or a weapon, but more often they use coercion, manipulation, or psychological pressure.
  • Myth: "Most rapes are committed by strangers.""
    Fact: It is a common misconception that most sexual assaults are committed by strangers. You are more likely to be sexually assaulted by someone you know – a friend, date, classmate, neighbor, or relative – than by a stranger. Familiar people and places are often more dangerous. More than 50% of all rape/sexual assault incidents were reported by victims to have occurred within 1 mile of their home or at their home (RAINN). 4 in 10 take place at the victim's home. 2 in 10 take place at the home of a friend, neighbor, or relative. 1 in 12 take place in a parking garage. In West Virginia (WV-IBRS, 2009): 70% of reported sex offenses occurred at a residence or in a home. Nearly 82% of all sexual assaults were committed by someone known to the victim. 46.6% of assaults were committed by an acquaintance, 7.4% by an intimate partner, and 27.6% by 'other' family (e.g., in-law, sibling).
  • Myth: "Most rapes are false reports or 'regretted sex'.""
    Fact: According to studies, false accusations of rape only account for 2%-8% of all reported sexual assaults – no higher than false reports for any other crimes.
  • Myth: "When an individual commits rape it's because she/he is 'turned on' and has uncontrollable sexual urges.""
    Fact: Forcing someone to engage in a sexual act against her/his will is an act of violence and aggression. The perpetrator is using sex as a weapon to gain power and control over the other person. Most sexual assaults are planned in advance, making the excuse implausible that what a victim was wearing seduced the offender, therefore causing the rape.

​​​Source Data: 

Center for Disease Control : Preventing Teen Dating Violence

West Virginia Foundation for  Rape Information and Services:

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Are you or someone you love a victim of dating violence? 

all our hotline, (800) 688-6157.
 Our advocates are available 24 hours a day,
7 days a week. 
Your call is confidential. 
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