More than half of the participants in a survey released Monday, Feb. 14 about violent dating in a university context, said they had already been the victims of at least one act of violence, almost equally as men and women.
The National Study on Dating Violence in University Context (2020/2021) is presented by UNI+, a program promoted by the Plano i Association, with community funding and aimed at preventing dating violence in the university context.
Antena Livre tried to understand if there are cases of dating violence in the municipality of Abrantes. There are cases of dating violence at the municipal services, where the Victim Support Office and the Specialized Network Intervention in Violence of Abrantes (REIVA) are active. According to the agencies, cases have been reported and in minors who are accompanied by their parents.
Marisa Espadinha is a social worker and victim support specialist and revealed that there are no alarming numbers, the existence of a single case of dating violence is in itself worrying. Certainly in an increasingly digital society, it is necessary to be alert to the ‘new’ forms of violence, which in many respects go further than physical violence.
According to a study conducted by UMAR (União de Mulheres Alternativa e Answer) and targeting the year 2020, physical violence represents only 5% of other forms of violence. In the document that Antena Livre had access to, it can be seen that the control represents 26% of the documented cases. And when we talk about control, in the younger classes, according to Marisa Espadinha, we are talking about the “obligation of the victim to give the partner, or partner, access to all passwords of social networks or mobile phones”. There is then, still according to the technique, the imposition of clothing, more precisely “an attempt to forbid the girlfriend or boyfriend from wearing this or that piece of clothing”.
In the same survey, prosecution accounts for 23% of the reported cases, while sexual assault ranks third at 19%. Psychological violence occurs in 15% and violence via social networks in 14%.
In these cases, dating violence can be detected, often in schools, where partners from the Abrantes Social Network, the Victim Support Office, and police services hold information sessions, among others. And there are cases when, at the end of the same sessions, very concrete cases are known in these establishments which then pass into the sphere of the entities accompanying them.
Marisa Espadinha explained that all cases are handled anonymously and with complete confidentiality of the victims’ identities. The technician of the municipality of Abrantes emphasized that this is a very important factor. “Every time someone presses the ‘panic button’ on the ‘Abrantes 360’ platform or calls the victim support phone number (965 137 000) available 24 hours a day for anyone who needs to report incidents of dating or domestic violence.
According to the data from the UMAR study, the acts of violence accepted by young people are of concern, such as insulting during an argument (25%), harassing or soliciting (23%) or entering social networks without permission (35%). There are other cases that are considered “normal” for young people, such as insults via social networks (17%), pressing or grabbing to kiss (29%) or even pushing, or hitting without leaving a trace (6% ). The values presented by the UMAR study are mean values and are male. Finally, the study points to a primary prevention of gender violence in a school context, in a continuous way, to make young people aware of how to develop their healthy intimate relationships and to deconstruct the legitimacy of violent behavior.
Marisa Espadinha, Social Worker and Victim Support Technician
Domestic violence has generally increased in times of a pandemic. These numbers grew in the country and also in Abrantes. More cases were reported and “we didn’t stop responding” just because we were in a pandemic and incarceration. There are more female victims. But there are also men who seek the services.”
Marisa Espadinha also explained that cases are sometimes reported by neighbors or other people close to the victims and admits that “many cases of violence will still remain hidden”. And the cases can stem from fear of behavior after the complaints or lack of financial autonomy to move on with their lives. There are, it is suspected, instances of adaptation to the idea that a male dominates the female.
It should be noted that the reported cases concern both more urban and more rural areas. And many cases are related to alcoholism as well.
Be that as it may, Marisa Espadinha said Abrantes has several services available to receive signals or calls from the victims themselves. And he added that within the social network of the municipality of Abrantes, in addition to the police authorities, there are other entities that can also provide help or support to people who suffer from domestic violence, be it physical, psychological or nowadays related to the social networking.
The first step is always to flag a situation and let the experts do their job, always confidentially. After all, the aim is to protect victims of violence.
It should be noted that the digital platform of the municipality “Abrantes 360” has a “panic button” for extreme situations where the victim needs support and is afraid or even afraid to contact directly the different places where they can file complaints.