If teen dating violence is a pattern of behaviors based on power and control, why do some individuals become abusive in the first place? The need to control a partner is something that is learned throughout life, whether in the media, movies, and music, or from family, classmates, or our community. When constantly shown examples of unhealthy or violent relationships, it can become harder to recognize healthy and non-hurtful behaviors. This is what sets up the basis for violence to become normalized.
These learned behaviors suggest that some violence is normal in a relationship, when in truth, violence is never acceptable
Violence can become normalized when:
- It is witnessed or experienced at home
- The news reports on violence as inevitable or unavoidable
- Violence as entertainment in video games, gaming apps, movies, sports and TV shows
- Jealousy, abuse, and stalking become romanticized in movies, TV shows, books, or music
- Social media images and comments downplay abuse
- Attitudes and beliefs shared by public figures make violence seem okay
- Experiencing an unhealthy or abusive relationship
Gender norms are how society expects people to behave based on their perceived gender. These stereotypes are not natural or inevitable. Women do not naturally know how to cook better, and men are not guaranteed to be more aggressive. We learn these traits from our families, culture, and society. These expectations can contribute to TDV in a number of ways.
- Submissive, passive, takes orders with a smile
- Emotional, sensitive, gentle
- Sexually abstinent, hard-to-get, while still flirty
- Focus on women’s bodies, having a perfect figure, looking good
- Gossips, spreads rumors, talks a lot
- Interested in fashion, make-up, dressing up
- Seen as caring for children, focus on cleanliness, being domestic
- Shopping, spending money, bargain hunters
- Shown in entertainment as helpless, in need of being rescued, ignorant (e.g., ditzy blonde)
- In the workforce, expected to be a nurse, secretary, teacher, esthetician, model, flight attendant
- Aggressive, controlling, dominant
- Provider, makes the money, does all the dirty work
- "Wears the pants in the family,” which suggests that a male’s role at home is to be in charge
- Decision maker, leader, politician, CEO
- Expected to fight, never backs down, plays aggressive sports
- Focus on male’s physical strength and power
- Shows little to no emotion, other than anger, which is seen as acceptable
- Sexually promiscuous, pressured to engage in sexual activity from a young age
- Views men as strong, brave, or courageous, and women as weak, submissive, and dainty
- Access to weapons, plays with violent toys, attracted to violent video games
- Shown in entertainment as the hero, rescues the “helpless” princess
so then how do these gender roles contribute to tdv?
We can't generalize or make assumptions for any one because of their perceived gender, obviously it’s not that simple. We shouldn’t have to like/dislike things because society says so. But, if these gender norms are pushed onto us from the moment we're born, it’s not surprising we see them in our relationships.
If masculine identified individuals are only shown to be dominant, controlling, and aggressive; there leaves little room for that person to show any emotion other than anger. He might be more likely to control a dating partner and think it’s his right to take away their power or be possessive (i.e. abusive). He might become overly aggressive towards other people he views as a threat to his dominant position, which could lead to fights, jealousy, possessiveness, and other forms of aggression. Or he may feel a need to protect his ego if the relationship ends, such as posting or sharing explicit photos or calling them "crazy".
If a feminine identified individual believes her voice is less important, she may not feel like it’s her place to speak back to an abusive partner or be clear of what she wants. She may think that being passive or submissive is her role in the relationship. This could show up in situations of sexual intimacy as well, where she feels unable to speak back or give consent to a partner’s demands, leading to to situations of sexual assault, continued dating violence, or even just unfulfilling intimacy. Also, she may feel like she cannot be honest about what she wants or thinks without being called "emotional" or "crazy"
<< Check out these videos for more on gender roles and breaking through them. Trust us, they're pretty good.
It's all these things that can contribute to a person becoming abusive, and all of these things are passed down from generation to generation. Once these expectations are in place, they're hard to fix, let alone progress in a healthier direction
All these things that can contribute to a person becoming abusive, and all of these things are passed down from generation to generation. Once these expectations are in place, they're hard to fix, let alone progress in a healthier direction