Information and Resources

Dating Violence

"Social" Definition: Dating/domestic violence is a pattern of assaultive and controlling behaviors including physical, sexual and psychological attacks against an individual, children, property or pets.

Legal Definition of Domestic Violence: "Physical harm, bodily injury, assault or the infliction of fear of imminent physical harm or assault between family or household members." Household members are people who have resided together or are residing together, have a child in common or are 16 years or older and have been in a dating relationship. Domestic Violence includes violence between spouses, boyfriend/girlfriend, adult child to parents and co-habitants.

Dating Violence Myth vs. Fact

A myth is "a notion based more on tradition or convenience rather than fact." Personal myths about domestic/dating violence exist, which need to be looked at in order to learn about domestic violence and anger control. Learning the facts helps to dispel the myths.

  • Myth: Abuse means physically hurting someone.
    Fact: Abuse comes in many forms: physical, verbal, emotional/psychological, sexual. Inflicting fear with words and gestures is also abuse.

  • Myth: Battering or partner abuse rarely occurs. It's a thing of the past.
    Fact: One out of every four American women (26%) report that they have been physically abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
  • Myth: People who stay in abusive relationships must not really mind the abuse. If they did, they would leave.
    Fact: A common misconception is that an abused partner will be safer if they leave. In actuality, the danger escalates once they leave. During separation an abused partner is five times more likely to be killed by their partner than prior to separation or after a divorce.
  • Myth: Women are just as violent as men toward their partners.
    Fact: Among all female murder victims in 1995, 26% were known to have been slain by husbands and boyfriends. Only 3% of the male victims were known to have been slain by wives or girlfriends.
  • Myth: Abuse is a private thing that only affects the immediate person and/or family.
    Fact: An estimated 50% of the 256,000 children in foster care are victims of abuse. Those of us who pay taxes spend $2.5 billion in Federal foster care expenditures under Title IV-E.
  • Myth: Abuse happens elsewhere, but not in my town, not in Bellingham, WA.
    Fact: According to 1997 and 1998 Bellingham Police and Sheriff's arrest reports: A combined number of 2,864 people were charged and/or arrested according to Domestic Violence violations. An additional 2,903 incidents of Verbal Abuse within Whatcom County were investigated and reported.

Am I being abused?

Abusive Relationship Warning Signs:

  • Your partner is jealous and possessive towards you.
  • Your partner tries to control you by being bossy and never considers your opinions.
  • Your partner scares you, making you afraid of how s/he will react to things you do or say.
  • Your partner has a quick temper and history of violence towards others.
  • Your partner pressures you into doing things that you do not want to do, such as having sex or breaking the law.
  • Your partner abuses illegal drugs and alcohol.
  • Your partner blames you for their problems, including those they brought upon themselves.
  • Your partner has a history of bad relationships.

  • Your partner believes that in relationships men should take the lead and women should follow.
  • Your family and friends have warned you about your partner or told you that they are worried for your safety.

Remember, in a healthy relationship, each person is entitled to:

  • Have their needs be as important as their partner's needs.
  • Be free from blame or responsibility for their partner's behavior or actions.
  • Be able to voice their thoughts, feelings and opinions.
  • Be free from emotional, sexual, financial and physical abuse at all times.
  • Change their minds and not feel threatened.
  • Spend time with their friends and family and not feel pressured by their partner's jealousy.
  • Live without fear and confusion from their partner's anger.
  • Be treated with respect and never called names.
  • Negotiate conflict and make decisions about the relationship together.
  • Enjoy each other's dreams.

If you feel you are in an abusive relationship:

  • Take it seriously. If you are in immediate danger, call the police.
  • Talk to someone about it, such as a friend, parent, clergy, or counselor. You are not alone.
  • Get yourself a safety plan; CASAS can assist you with this.
  • Call for help to assist you with restraining orders, safety planning, education, support, and other services you may need.

If you suspect someone is in an abusive relationship:

  • Voice your concerns.
  • Don't force them to break up with their partner until they are ready to do so on their own terms.
  • Tell them that they do not have to face the situation alone.
  • Offer your support and guidance, and refer them to the appropriate resources. Educate yourself about abusive relationships.

Safety Plan

Increasing Safety in the Relationship:

  • I have important phone numbers accessible. The phone nearest to my home/apartment is located at__________________.
  • I can tell these people about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from my home/apartment _________________.
  • I can leave extra money, car keys, clothes, and copies of documents with _____________________.
  • In case I leave, I will have important documents in an easy to reach place. If it isn't possible for me to keep important documents in my possession, I will try to have copies made.

Increasing Safety When the Relationship is Over:

  • I can obtain a protection order from the following places and keep it near me at all times ________.
  • I can leave a copy of my protection order with this person ___________.
  • I will inform these people to call the police if my partner is observed near my residence ___________________.
  • I can tell my roommate and a person at work about my situation and ask him or her to screen my calls ______________.
  • I can change the locks; install metal doors, smoke detectors, a security system, and outdoor motion sensor lights.
  • If I feel down and ready to return to a potentially abusive situation, I can attend local support groups, call CASAS 360.650.3700, or call these people for support: ___________________.

Page Updated 10.01.2015