Dating Abuse on Jersey Shore: Let’s Talk

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.


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.



“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.

Comment section

10 replies
  1. I can’t believe you are only saying Sammi was abusive. Ronnie has been verbally, mentally, and emotionally abusive all along. Throwing her clothes on the floor and telling her to get the F-out IS ABUSE. But no one is talking about that, only physical violence. Shame on you.

  2. Kristin, thanks for commenting. We aren’t only saying that Sammi is abusive. You’re right that Ronnie has been abusive too. In this post, we talked about how Ronnie’s behavior of throwing the clothes was intimidating, and how he verbally abused Sammi in this episode under the section entitled Verbal Abuse. We’re not condoning one and condemning the other. This is a toxic relationship where both Sammi and Ronnie keep escalating the drama (also talked about above in Escalating Actions). We say several times in the post that we are not focused on the people, but are focused on the action of punching someone. A punch is abuse. We were disappointed that MTV called it “a relationship spiraling out of control” instead of calling this situation what it actually was- dating abuse.

    Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Love is Respect, this is “real talk!” MTV’ comment(i.e. a relationship spiraling out of control) reinforces the message that dating violence is an acceptable way to resolve problems! Totally unacceptable. The truth of the matter is this relationship is about power and control. Thank you for responsible reporting! You rock!

  4. when i saw this episode and saw that sammi hit ronnie i started crying because honestly ronnie is the sweeties guy and was there for her many times when she had no one by her. I know what it feels like to be in ronnies spot because i too was in a abusive relationship and when you get it by that other person you act like it doesnt bother you becuase you love that person so much. For ronnie to forgive yes i believe that is a mistake but that shows that he love her so much and that he would do anyhting for that girl. Honestly i don’t think ronnie should put up with all the crap sammi has put him through.

  5. I’m really interested in reading the blog post about the Snooki Punch vs the Ronnie Punch.

    I don’t think it’s right that MTV chose to air Ronnie getting hit by his girlfriend (same as they displayed with Teen Mom) but censor when a female gets hit.

    I honestly don’t believe it’s fair to say one is worse off than the other. They are both wrong and should be treated that way.

  6. I agree that Sammi was Abusive as was Ronnie, They are both equally abusive towards each other. Verbal,Physical,Emotional & Mentally Abusive is ALL WRONG, Both Sammi & Ronnie were wrong,&I know this because I am going through it all now, Maybe not the Physical part, But everything else, & It’s me who is mostly causing it, I mean me & my boyfriend are abusive emotionally,&mentally. There were some cases that we were abusive by pushing each other, but even then, I was hurt emotionally. Sammi & Ronnie need to work on this relationship, It I’m only 16 & doing it, They should be able to do it.

  7. I think that everything is unacceptable in this relationship. Also…just to share my own opinion. I think that a lot of what goes on in “Jersey Shore” is unacceptable….girls fighting with other girls over guys and blah blah blah. As well as all of the guys seeming to fight with one another for a girl. I personally don’t like reality shows for this reason. I’m just saying…

  8. Thank you so much addressing the relationships in Jersey Shore! I am super excited to read what you have to say about the Snooki Punch vs the Ronnie Punch…we have talked a lot about why MTV shows female perpetrated violence but blacking out male perpetrated violence. Yay! love is respect!!

  9. This link is great. Let’s face it, do we really expect healthy behavior out of the Jersey Shore people? The show is like a car wreck; shocking, disturbing, and dangerous. What hurts the worst is that young people in U.S. love this show, I don’t think they understand that what they’re witnessing is abuse and that these behaviors should not be on the pedastal that MTV (and our tv society) puts them on. Do you think MTV would add loveisrespect to their site?

  10. This is clearly a very unhealthy relationship and it saddens me to see the violence is minimized because in this case the abuser was the female. I do understand that the incident on Teen Mom was made more of an issue because the child was in the room so there is a risk however violence is violence and the is such a thing as co-combative relationships.

    I’m interested in hearing about the males bringing girls that are clearly intoxicated back to the house and locking themselves in the room with them.

Comments are closed.

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