Unfortunately, violence against women is commonplace in society, including dating violence, domestic abuse, assault and harassment. This violence isn’t only emotionally damaging, but physically damaging, making it more likely that the woman will have chronic pain, depression, and dependence on drugs or alcohol. In fact, physical assault by someone that the victim knows is the number ons cause of injury for women, with over two million women assaulted annually in the United States, according to an article from the Illinois Department of Public Health.
This article provides clear definitions, statistics and tips regarding physical and emotional violence towards women. While it’s by no means a comprehensive guide to all of the factors that may effect women’s safety, it is a good place to start if you’re not super educated on the dangers that face women.
Disclaimer: This Security Baron Guide does not provide medical advice. The content provided here is informational in nature and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for speaking with a physician/medical professional and should not be relied upon solely for ensuring your safety. Additionally, it cannot replace speaking with a mental health professional or proper legal authorities. If you are having an emergency, please contact your local emergency services.
Definition of Dating Violence
Dating violence is a “pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviors that one person uses against another in order to gain or maintain power and control in the relationship,” according to an article from the state of Michigan’s website. Some actions that the abuser might take include:
- Isolation: The abuser might try to isolate the victim from her family and friends, making it harder for her to leave the relationship and making it easier for him to gaslight her.
- Humiliation: If the abused confronts the abuser, he might humiliate her publicly to destroy her credibility and make her doubt her experience.
- Intimidation: The abuser might threaten or verbally abuse the victim, physically abuse animals, or destroy property as a means of intimidation.
- Coercion: The abuser might threaten to leave the abused, harm himself or harm others if the victim doesn’t do what he wants.
- Physical assault: Assault can mean hitting pushing, slapping, kicking, beating, or even just threatening physical violence.
- Sexual assault: The abuser might force the woman into sexual activity against her wishes.
How Common is Dating Violence?
While it’s impossible to give a completely accurate statistic about the occurrence of dating violence in the United States, an article from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services says that over 40% of all college women experienced dating violence, whether physical or emotional.
Dating Violence Tips
If you are experiencing dating violence or know someone who you think might be, or even if you just want to prevent dating violence, here are a few steps you can take:
- Call a hotline: If you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call a hotline like the U.S National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
- Be a good listener: If your friend is experiencing domestic violence, it’s best to listen calmly without trying to solve the problem at first, validate their feelings and then help them find support and resources, according to an article from Very Well Mind.
- Get prepared: If you’re currently experiencing dating violence, try to recognize patterns that spark abuse so you can avoid them. Hide anything your abuser can use as a weapon, and figure out your home’s safe places. For more tips, read this tip sheet from WomensLaw.org.
Definition of Assault
The exact definition of assault differs based on legal jurisdiction, however, it’s generally defined as “as intentionally putting another person in reasonable apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact,” according to an article from the Legal Information Institute at Cornell Law School. Physical injury isn’t necessarily required for the legal definition of assault to occur if the victim has “apprehension…[about] imminent harmful or offensive contact”.
How Common is Assault Towards Women?
Physical and sexual assault of women isn’t uncommon. Here are some statistics from the Illinois Department of Health:
- There are two to four million assaults on women every year in the United States
- In Illinois, 25% of all hospital emergency department visits from women were the result of domestic assault
- Elder abuse, a common practice, is more likely to happen to an older woman, with 75% of elder abuse cases having a female victim
Dealing with or recovering from assault can take months if not years, and many victims find that the emotional wounds last longer than the physical ones. In an article entitled “Recovering from Rape and Sexual Trauma,” Melinda Smith, Editor in Chief of the nonprofit organization HelpGuide the article appears on, along with the late Dr. Jeanne Segal, a psychologist, wrote some helpful tips for healing including:
- Talk about it: The more you keep your assault to yourself, you won’t be able to heal, but make sure you choose your listener wisely, especially at first. If you don’t have a person that’s trustworthy, supportive, calm and empathetic, you can always talk to a therapist or call a rape hotline.
- Don’t blame yourself: Nothing you did or didn’t do caused your assault to happen; rather, the perpetrator caused the assault. There’s no shame in being a victim and you did not deserve what happened to you, and thinking so will only delay healing.
- Prepare for triggers: After an assault, triggers are inevitable. They can be anything from a noise, a sound, or even a person. Try to anticipate your triggers so you can prepare for them, avoiding certain places, sights, sounds or smells. If you do get triggered, calm yourself down by slowing down your breathing.
Definition of Domestic Violence
From a clinical or behavioral perspective, domestic violence is defined as “a pattern of assaultive and/ or coercive behaviors, including physical, sexual, and psychological attacks, as well as economic coercion, that adults or adolescents use against their intimate partners,” according to a guide from the United States Children’s Bureau. It’s similar to dating violence in terms of being a pattern of abusive behavior used to control or intimidate a partner, although it may or may not be from a romantic relationship.
How Common Is Domestic Violence Towards Women?
- One in four women experiences “intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner contact sexual violence, and/or intimate partner stalking“.
- One in four women has been the victim of severe physical violence by an intimate partner.
- Everyday, over 20,000 phone calls are placed to domestic violence hotlines around the United States.
Domestic Violence Tips
Whether you are experiencing domestic violence or need to help a friend out, here are a few more tips from WomensLaw.Org:
- Avoid scarves or long jewelry: As sad as it is to say, your abuser could use these accessories to strangle you.
- Keep important papers handy: In case you need to leave in a hurry, gather your birth certificate, social security card, passport, and other important documents in a place that’s easy to reach but hidden from your abuser.
- Get your car ready: Try to always have a full tank of gas and back your way into your driveway if you need to make a quick escape.
Definition of Harassment
Harassment, which typically refers to behavior in the workplace, is defined as “unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including pregnancy), national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information,” according to an article from the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Harassment becomes illegal when the conduct is a condition of employment or if it creates an “intimidating, hostile or abusive” work environment for the victim. It can include verbal harassment, unwelcome touching, digital harassment, being followed, flashed, or sexually assaulted.
How Common Is Harassment Towards Women?
A recent article from National Public Radio reported on an online survey from the nonprofit organization Stop Street Harassment which found that:
- 81% of women have been sexually harassed in some form during their lifetimes.
- More than 75% of women have been verbally harassed, while 51% of women have experiencing unwelcome sexual touching.
- Over a third of women who have been victims of sexual harassment or assault have felt depressed or anxious after.
In an article called “Dealing with Harassers,” the Stop Street Harassment organization provides several tips for women, including:
- Report it: If you’re in the workplace, your employer is legally required to deal with office harassment, so call or write the company to let them know what’s happening.
- Intervene: If you see someone else being harassed, offer to help them or tell the harasser that their behavior is unacceptable. This is especially effective if it’s done by men, as men tend to look towards their own gender for approval.
- Respond calmly: Without insulting the person personally, let the harasser know that their actions are “unwelcome, unacceptable and wrong”.
Recap of Women’s Safety And Security Guide
Violence towards women can come in many forms, so it’s important to be aware of all the risks that women face, whether you are a woman or not. In general, if you’re a victim of any sort of violence, don’t be afraid to ask for help from someone you trust, a therapist or a hotline. If you see or know of someone else experiencing violence in any form, don’t be a bystander— help them out just like you’d like them to do for you.