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Dating Violence Seen as Normal


Valentine’s Day is synonymous with love, affection and caring but according to a conference held last week by the União de Mulheres Alternativa e Reposta (UMAR), it appears that many youngsters believe that dating violence is the norm.

According to Joana Martins, many young girls think it is romantic and cute to be stalked; they consider it love while Valentina Ferreira stated that youngsters belief that relationship violence is acceptable has to change, and this is something the association proposes to do.

UMAR revealed that a survey of 454 young people (boys and girls), aged approximately fourteen years old living in Funchal, Machico and Câmara de Lobos, revealed that 32% of the young people were involved in an intimate relationship, 27% thought persecution as common behaviour, 22% normalised sexual violence, 18% considered social network bullying and psychological violence as OK while a further 9% assumed that physical abuse was part of a relationship.

The survey also covered types of relationship and 38% of those questioned said that their partners had forbidden them to wear a particular piece of clothing, 37% stated they were not allowed to pick up their phone or respond to social media without asking permission first, 34% were forbidden to talk to friends and 32% said they could only leave when they were told to! Frighteningly, about one-third of those questioned considered this type of control to be part of a healthy relationship.

Worryingly, out of the sample group, 21% of young people, who were or are in an intimate relationship, admit that they have already suffered psychological violence, 20% have been subjected to some form of ‘control’, and 18% were persecuted. At least 58% said they were subject to some form of relationship violence (30% of whom were girls and 28% boys). 25% of girls and 20% of boys reported that they were prohibited from spending time with or talking to friends during the relationship.

Even more alarming, 67% of the young people surveyed do not consider dating violence to be questionable behaviour, and this is something that UMAR is keen to eradicate through closer interaction within schools and amongst students.

Samantha Gannon

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