|▲ Sometimes it's hard for victims to realize the seriousness of dating violence.|
Dating violence, sounds like an expression formed of contrasting ideas, but it is real and it is sadly all too common. It is defined as violence or threats between individuals in a relationship including verbal, psychological, sexual, and physical harassment. Since the mental and physical abuse occurs in private relationships, victims often have difficulty recognizing it as a crime and as a result, it often goes unreported. Moreover, many people misunderstand the problem as something they can take of themselves. Despite the high rate of repeated offences, people often stay committed in their relationships. However, now it is starting to catch the attention of the general public and people are looking for things to change.
Minor scuffles between lovers have reached an extremely dangerous level. According to the Korean National Police Agency, more than 8,000 people were arrested on a charge of dating violence in 2016; which means there were averagely 23 cases of dating violence per day. Furthermore, More than 60% of dating violence criminals has already physically abused their partners before. This is clearly a result of societal ignorance towards dating abuse. Furthermore, according to a survey by the Korean Women’s Call Centre, 61% of female respondents said they were victims of dating violence. What is worse is that most of the victims are more likely to treat this matter lightly, thinking it will not last long and they should forgive the offenders when they apologize.
The Dankook Herald (DKH) interviewed an actual victim of dating violence. She stated that, she suffered from emotional and physical abuse from her ex-boyfriend. He was very kind at first, but his love steadily changed to obsession. He even pushed and slapped her, but she didn’t actually realize that this was dating violence. After she broke up with him, he came and begged for her mercy, but she ignored him, and as he got angrier and responded with more extreme violence. She did not want to accuse him of any crimes because she feared his more violent retaliation. She recently learned about the notion of dating violence and realized the abuse she suffered was a crime. Along with the growing societal interest in ending dating violence, she hopes the government will come up with an effective plan for dealing with this type of crime in order to prevent further violence against innocent partners.
|▲ Circle of dating abuse, source from Teen Voices Magazine.|
The DKH interviewed Kim Do-yeon, President of the Korea Dating Violence Laboratory to get professional information on the topic. According to Kim dating violence has grown very serious in recent years. Moreover, there are many victims suffering from trauma, after the abuse. She gave two reasons why dating abuse is rampant. First is because of internal reasons, where the offenders or victims are insensitive to violence for their own reasons, and the second is more exoteric factors, such as the media and a lack of education has also made the public insensitive to categorizing this as violent behavior. Since none of these factors can easily be prevented, dating violence crime has continued to grow. Furthermore, she insisted that since there is no legal definition for dating violence, it is still very hard to punish offenders and protect victims in the name of law. Recently, the police developed rules for dealing with date violence crimes. They offer victims a way to get help from experts about dating violence, so that they can build their case and secure advantages in court. Additionally, there are some other ways to get help when you are a victim of dating violence. There is a 24-hour government sponsored number for reporting dating abuse violence (02-1366). Victims can also request counseling from the Korea Sexual Violence Relief Center.
Despite this support mechanisms, there is an urgent demand for a system that would help prevent dating violence. First, as far as education is concerned, there should be a proper forum for students to learn more about dating violence, what it is and how to deal with it. Furthermore, social attitudes toward dating violence have to change. People should realize it’s not a personal matter anymore, but rather a nationwide issue, and their needs to be a national campaign to launch the discussions. Along with the national campaign, schools should be armed with special counselors trained to help victims; and hopefully prevent further abuse. Moreover, the government needs to develop a clear policy for dating abuse. For example, there is specific law known as the ‘Claire’ law in the UK; that the Korean police would like to see introduced here. The Claire law was implemented in England in 2009 after a woman named Claire was killed by her boyfriend, who turned out to have a sizeable criminal record. This law enables people who are about to get married or people who are dating, to search into their counterparts’ criminal history. This bill was brought to motion because statistics shows that 77% of the dating violence is conducted by offenders that already have a criminal record. Once Korea begins to seriously consider policy and legislative options for combatting dating violence and punishing violent offenders, they should be sure to include this kind of precautionary measure.
It is clear that abusing your partners in physical, economical or emotional ways is a very critical threat to them, and yet as of now, we treat these matters as secondary-issues in private relationships. However, recognition the severity of dating violence is finally on the rise in Korea. We should be very aware that this problem is not only a private problem with individual responsibility, but it is also the shared responsibility of an insensitive society, the media and a lack of appropriate education. With this recent awakening, South Koreans should have wider coverage in their protection system to include females, and society should continuously report the abuse to the media.
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