Violence is a learned behaviour; when it works to get the desired
result, it is used again and again as long as the perpetrator continues
to get satisfactory results and the victim feels helpless to escape.
Violence is most disturbing and destructive when it occurs within
the boundaries of a relationship. Youth have a variety of relationships
within which violence may occur - parents, siblings, friends, other
family members, schoolmates, dates, intimate partners, teammates,
neighbours, teachers, employers, coaches, clergy and other professionals.
relationships, be they opposite or same sex, intimate, family or
acquaintance, have common elements of intimidation, isolation
and fear. Violence becomes a choice, whereby one person in the
acquires and maintains power and control over the actions and
thoughts of the other.
Abuse occurs along a continuum, starting with
verbal insults, disrespect and threats, progressing to minor pushing,
or tripping, escalating to hitting, punching, kicking, sexual
assault and confinement, and often accelerating to the use
of knives, guns
or other weapons. Many times, emotional and psychological abuse
is not recognized as serious and damaging and is often ignored
Although the majority of serious violent
acts resulting in injury or death are attributed to males, statistics
are increasingly likely to use violence. A recent study indicated
that the actual numbers of violent acts attributed to women
were higher than those attributed to men but that the levels
resulting from women’s violence were strikingly lower.
(Coker et al., 2000.) Compared to teenage boys, girls sustain
3 times as
much mild injury, 2 times as much moderate injury and virtually
all severe injuries resulting from dating violence.
behaviour may be changed if the negative consequences are
greater than the perceived benefits, and if both the
perpetrator and the victim are taught new ways to interact