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Excuses, Excuses…

Just as people make excuses for their own poor behavior, it seems to be human nature that we often make excuses for others as well — in particular, our significant others. Have you ever found yourself apologizing for the actions of your partner? “Sorry about that, they’re just tired and had a really long day,” or, “They don’t mean to act like that, they’ve just been stressed at work.”

Has a family member or friend ever directly asked you about the way your partner treats you? How did you respond? Did you come up with an excuse to put them at ease — or, to put your own mind at ease?

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Apologies and Excuses

“I’m sorry. I won’t ever do that again…”

If your partner is abusive, you’ve probably heard your share of “I’m sorrys” and excuses for their behavior. When it comes to people making apologies and justifications for their unhealthy actions, it can be difficult to see through their words or recognize them for what they are.

Why do we accept an abusive partner’s apologies over and over again? Why do we want to believe the excuses a partner makes when they’re treating us badly? Sometimes the justifications sound really good. Especially when we’re looking for something — anything — to help make sense of how this person we care about is acting toward us. It’s normal to want to rationalize what’s going on because abuse is pretty irrational.

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What is Sexual Coercion?

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is almost over, but it’s never too late (or too soon!) to talk about sex and healthy relationships. In a healthy relationship, both partners feel comfortable with the level of physical activity, whether that means holding hands, kissing, touching, and/or having intercourse.

One aspect of your life that you always have complete control over is how far you want to take it with your romantic partner, your significant other, your crush or even someone you’re just hooking up with. When it comes to anything physical, you absolutely have a voice and do not have to do anything you don’t want to do.

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No More Victim Blaming

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The “No More” campaign is about taking a stand and demanding safety and respect for all. Our guest blogger today, Courtney C. from Muhlenberg College, does exactly that as she declares that no one should be seen as “deserving” to be violated because of how they dress or act. 

So I’m about to leave my house to get on the metro with my mom and she turns to me and says, “Is that what you’re wearing?” I had on jeans and a white tank top. It was the middle of summer and a sauna outside! I say, “Yea, why?” She tells me that I should cover up because there are creepy people who could try and rape me. Thanks for the heads up mom but, um, wouldn’t it be better to tell the hypothetical creepy person not to rape me?

A story breaks that a girl was sexually assaulted on campus and mixed in with gasps and shock are questions: “what was she wearing,” “how much did she have to drink,” “was she alone?” My question: those things matter why? So what if she was wearing a mini skirt, stumbling home from the college bar, alone. No one has the right to invade a girl’s space, put their hands on her or even shout “Hey baby!” from across the street.

Why is it that the messages out there are for people to not be victims? Why not for people not to be perpetrators of abuse? The media only tells you how to protect yourself from rape, like carry a whistle, don’t walk alone at night. But the messages aren’t out there telling people not to rape other people.

I want to see no more blaming victims of sexual assault for the abuse they suffered. My heart sinks for every girl who is afraid to come forward about her sexual assault because maybe she did have “one too many” that night. No one should ever have to worry that if someone hurts them that it was in any way their own fault or that they brought it upon themselves. No more is sexual assault the victim’s problem.

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No More Feeling Unsafe at Parties

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“Well, what was she wearing?” “Yea, but was she drinking?” These are the unfortunate and unfair questions that often are asked after a sexual assault. Today’s “No More” post comes courtesy of an anonymous but honest student who wants college parties to be safer for everyone.

We’ve all been there: covering our drinks with cocktail napkins so someone can’t slip a roofie in it, drinking the “punch” out of the cooler which is made with some crazy-strong grain alcohol so we can’t tell how much we’ve had to drink until it’s too much, carrying your drink with you to the bathroom. My roommate does that. She is that (understandably) nervous about someone doing something to her drink.

Then there’s after the party: do you risk walking home with a group of friends, afraid of the boogey man in the night?  Or crashing after the party on the sketchy host’s sofa?  Or catching a ride from someone you’ve just met who seems nice enough but you really have no way of knowing?

These are all decisions I’ve faced in the past and will continue to face as long as I want to socialize yet drink responsibly.

On college campuses, sexual assault and violence are way too prevalent.  And the drinking environment at parties adds fuel to the fire. While drinking is no excuse for sexual assault, alcohol lowers people’s inhibitions, and things happen at parties that wouldn’t happen in the sober light of day.

I wish we could be more open about what goes on at parties.  I wish we had a culture where people acknowledged the drinking, so that we could take preventative measures to help keep people safer.  I wish that people wouldn’t blame themselves, even if they had been drinking underage. I wish that the victim of an assault wouldn’t get blamed by others, no matter what she had been doing or drinking earlier that evening or before.

This requires a bit of a cultural shift.  While it is important to take precautions, like going with friends and knowing your limits, unheeded precautions should not result in victim-blaming.  And if you lose your friends or over-imbibe, no matter what happens to you, it is not your fault.  The police should be more responsive, and ideally the culture of partying would evolve into one where fun did not require booze.  But until it does, we’ll all do what we can to feel safer, but remember it is still never our fault.

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21 and Up: Drinking and Dating

Having a great time on a date or at a party can mean partaking a few beers or margaritas for our 21+ college-aged readers. We’re not talking about dancing-on-the-table, singing bad karaoke drinking. We’re talking about one or two drinks on a date or at a party.

We don’t talk about drinking and dating very often, but we want all of our readers to be safe if they choose to partake of alcohol. So, we came up with a few things to think about when drinking around a potential date.

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Protect Yourself this Spring Break

If you’re anything like us here at loveisrespect, spring break is a time to kick back, relax and analyze the healthiness of different aspects of relationships.people at the beach

Just kidding.

Those of us with time off don’t really think about it, and we know that you probably don’t either. Spring break is a time to enjoy a week off in some of the year’s most beautiful weather.

A lot of people go into spring break with the intent to travel and have a carefree time, which leads to a lot of casual hook ups. And that’s perfectly okay and can be healthy if done the right way. Check out our hooking up healthy ideas. We just want to make sure you’re safe. It is known that sexual assault happens more frequently during spring break. We don’t want to deter you from making fun plans, but make sure when you do, you keep some of our safety tips in mind to protect yourself from sexual assault.

Don’t travel alone. Use the buddy system or have a group of three or more, just keep your friends close. Things are more fun when you’re with friends anyway, so by keeping friends with you at all times, you’re killing two birds with one stone – staying safe and maximizing fun.

Use your cell phone. Text your friends or have your phone available to receive texts or calls from your group. When you’re out on the town, keeping tabs on each other with your phones is an effective way to stay safe. If you have a smart phone there are apps that can allow you to see where your friends are on a map. Make sure you charge your phone right before you go out, or take your charger with you. We’ll be discussing some technology that can help you stay safe in an upcoming post. Stay tuned.

Practice safe sex. 75% of all college age students report never or rarely using a condom during spring break(McKinley Healthy Center). Whether it is through abstinence or contraception, use safe sex habits. Make sure that if you plan on hooking up, you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to safely hooking up. Make the choices you feel good about and keep your partner in the loop about what it is that would make you feel more comfortable.

Know your limits with alcohol. Alcohol has culturally become a big part of the spring break celebration. If you choose to drink, know that your decision-making abilities are weakened.

Did you know a study showed when alcohol is involved, victims of sexual abuse are less likely to name the experience “rape?” Alcohol doesn’t change what happened. Students report that decisions are negatively influenced by alcohol or drug use just prior to sexual activity.

Designating one person to not drink gives you a safety net to fall back on, but doesn’t guarantee you’ll be safe. Never accept drink a from a stranger, unless you see it poured, and make sure you watch each drink you consume being made. Don’t leave a drink unattended, either. It’s unsafe to trust people you have just met in this setting. Be cautious.

Have a plan. Before you go out, sit down and form a plan of action with your friends. Know where you’re going, what each of your intentions are for the night and what is going on at the end of the night. Make sure that you check in with each other if one leaves a different way than was planned. Also make sure you have a back up plan if you find yourself alone. Know the name and address of your hotel, as well as some major streets in the new town.

Always keep in mind that if you travel, you will be in a place with people that you don’t know. By being around or casually hooking up with someone, you may be sacrificing your safety net. Take the right steps to keep yourself safe. If you or a friend are victims of sexual abuse, contact RAINN by phone at 1-800-656-4673 or by chatting online.

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Out of Control

Now we flash forward to Adam out with his friends and housemates at a bar. Nany gets upset at finding out that her other crush had a girlfriend and starts flirting with Adam. Dustin is the first to get concerned.

“We are all screwed. This is about to blow up.”

He approaches Heather and asks her to intervene and to get Nany away from Adam. She’s reluctant but eventually agrees to pull Nany out of the situation. The girls leave, Adam looks upset and starts drinking heavily.

Adam gets so drunk that the group is thrown out of the bar. He comes home and starts destroying stuff, ripping lighting features from the wall and smashing bottles. Nany comes in to see him and he starts punching the walls, breaking picture frames off of the wall. Adam hugs Nany and stares at her. Nany tells him to chill and to lay down. While still holding her, he begins punching the wall above her head, leaving a bright red blood smear on the green paint.

LIR’s Take: Just because he didn’t hit her doesn’t mean this isn’t abuse. This was a move to intimidate and make her afraid. Also, we have said it before and we’ll say it again — alcohol is never an excuse.

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Dating Abuse on Jersey Shore: Let’s Talk

Last night’s Jersey Shore episode showed blatant dating abuse between the once-favorite couple, Ronnie and Sammi. Before we begin, we at loveisrespect want to say this: no matter what, hitting is never ok.

Yes, alcohol was involved, yes there is a back-story to this couple but dating abuse is never acceptable or permissible. Alcohol or no alcohol, history or no history, violence is always a choice. It is never ok.

As we talk about this episode, we’re talking about the action of dating violence. We’re not for one person and against the other. We’re focused on the punch and the events leading up to it, as well as the aftermath.

Now let’s look at the elements of the night:

Escalating Actions

One thing certainly led to another. Sammi got jealous because Ronnie was talking to another girl at the bar. Sammi confronted him when they got home and told him she might leave the house. When she left the room, Ronnie threw her clothes out of her closet onto the floor. Sammi came back, saw it and got upset. Ronnie started saying harsh things. Next thing the viewer knows, Sammi is screaming at Ron from the top of the balcony about Jenni. A few minutes later, Sam punches him across the face.

Both people provoked each other with their actions all night. Each action was increasingly meaner and harsher, until it erupted into actual violence.

Verbal Abuse

After Ronnie throws Sammi’s clothes into a pile on the floor, he tells her “I am on a different level than you right now.” Not only was the act of throwing the clothes disrespectful and intimidating, his comment to her was purposefully hurtful. Sammi later verbally abuses Ronnie too by screaming at him.

Space

When Ronnie says he needed space, Sammi completely ignored him and continued to stay up in his face. She didn’t allow him to diffuse this situation at all. When someone asks for space, listen and respect their request. Step back and cool off.

Passive Housemates (AKA Bystanders)

One thing we noticed (and will talk about in an upcoming blog post) was how the roommates reacted to the violence. Or didn’t react for that matter. Mike consoled Ron, but neither he — nor the other roommates — talked about the violence. Instead, they focused on keeping Sammi in the house, without addressing the safety threat she posed to Ronnie.

The Focus Was on the Person, Not the Action

The action was never held accountable. All of the roommates—including Sammi and Ronnie—talked about Sammi’s ego, the relationship, past events with Jenni, but never talked in depth about the fact that Sammi punched Ron.

Even the morning after the punch, Sammi says she regrets hurting Ronnie but doesn’t say how she will change the behavior.

In a dating abuse situation, you can’t ignore the action of violence. You can’t excuse it.

 

Manipulation

“Do you want me to leave?” Sammi repeatedly questioned Ron, both the night of the punch and the next morning. Again, this is a way of not accepting responsibility for her actions. She kept putting the decision of her leaving or staying on him.

The episode was a lot to watch. We were disappointed at how the roommates, Sammi especially, glazed over the violence. It wasn’t seen as a big deal, but was reduced to a “long night” as Mike explained in his confessional interview. That’s why we’re going to devote our next few blog posts to discussing the incident in greater detail.

Stay tuned for these future blog posts:

  • The Snooky Punch vs. the Ronnie Punch: Why did one air but not the other?
  • Not Just Physical: Other forms of abuse present in this episode
  • Hushed Housemates: The bystander effect in the Jersey Shore house

But first, what did you think about this episode? What upset you the most when watching it? Please keep comments in line with our community rules.