We have all seen a playful couple in the hallway hitting each other, calling their playful strikes "love taps." But the line between playful and serious can be razor thin when dealing with domestic abuse and violence.
Junior Dylan Pruitt agrees. He believes domestic violence is an issue that is important to discuss.
"It starts off playful, but then when they don’t know how to express anger [abuse starts]," Pruitt said.
Pop stars highlight danger
The fight between pop stars Chris Brown, 19, and Rihanna, 21, showed students what can happen when anger is expressed incorrectly. Police allege Brown assaulted and threatened to kill Rihanna during an argument earlier this year. Brown has pleaded not guilty to charges of assault and criminal threats.
Instead of feeling angry at Brown for his actions, some people claim that Rihanna deserved it. It is unreasonable and sad that our generation cannot see the situation for the abuse it is. There is a lot of speculation about the situation, with some saying it was over a text message, while others accuse Rihanna of having an STD. Underneath the whispers lurk a desensitized attitude toward the very serious matter at hand: domestic violence.
If not addressed, this attitude could start a chain reaction of young people believing it is OK to abuse someone else. Domestic violence is intolerable. Unfortunately, our generation is becoming jaded to the problem.
"Domestic violence is like a disease: it affects everyone. Sadly some think it is normal, I think [the way we think] has to be changed." Pruitt said.
According to a 2000 National Institute of Justice study, approximately 1.3 million women and 835,000 men annually are physically assaulted by an intimate partner in the United States.
"Even if [Rihanna] was trying to egg him on, it is never right to take that step. There’s so many better ways handle a situation, it could have been handled without a trip to the hospital," Pruitt said.
Domestic violence isn’t a joke
A person should never be able to express their anger by harming another person. As Pruitt said, an argument can be handled better than that. If an argument occurs and escalates, the parties involved must walk away and return after calming down.
It is never funny that someone is abused, but some students find the situation laughable.
One senior, for example, when asked if he believed domestic violence is ever justified jokingly replied, "To keep [girls] in their place. It’s just a good time in general." Three other seniors jokingly replied in an anonymous survey with vulgar language.
"[Students who say she deserves it] are dysfunctional themselves. They are justifying violence. It is like justifying a school shooting because the killers were treated poorly. I don’t think anyone really deserves that," Pruitt said.
"Keep them in their place." As silly as the statement may have been intended, it echoes the way abusers really believe. According to the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition (DVSAC) Web site, relationship abuse, or dating violence, occurs when a person feels that they need to maintain power and control over their partner. The relationship is no longer equal, and behavior is used to keep the other person "in check." The joke from this view is not so funny.
Domestic violence is a serious issue that comes in many forms. If you or a friend are in an abusive relationship, you have to tell someone and get help. Call the National Teen Dating Abuse Help hotline at 1-866-331-9474.
"If you are in a relationship and you see violent tendencies, they will grow; they will get worse. Be careful of those signs," Pruitt said.