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.

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