Written by Brandon Cook
Imagine that you have a dollar. That dollar represents the entire population of the U.S.A. Every single person in the country is included. Now cash in your dollar for 100 pennies and lay them out in front of you. Divide your pennies into a pile of 21 and a pile of 79. That is the rural population compared to the urban population. Now make piles of 13 and 87. That is the foreign-born and U.S. born populations. Now divide the dollar into piles of 49 and 51. Almost straight down the middle. What do you think that represents? Men and women? Rich and poor?
No. That is the division of people who have been in a psychologically abusive relationship to those who haven’t.
Which means that if you pulled any person at random from the U.S., the probability that they have been in an emotionally abusive relationship is almost the same as getting heads if you flipped one of your pennies.
And 1 out of 3 women and 1 out of 4 men have experienced rape, physical violence and/or stalking by an intimate partner. Much of this abuse happens before people turn 18.
If you have heard the same presentations at school that I did, someone would come in and tell you not to be abusive. Don’t hit. Don’t make fun of others. Don’t rape. That’s all true, but that’s only part of the story. People are affected by dating violence regardless of gender, race, age, or ethnicity.
So, don’t abuse. Don’t be abused. Don’t hit and don’t be hit. Don’t tolerate your buddy demeaning his girlfriend. Call out your sister when she harasses her ex. Just think how different the world would be if you treated dating violence just as serious as someone around you stealing your backpack or making a racial slur.
The truth is that any relationship you get through dating violence is not the one that you really want. If you are the one being violent, you can’t be both loved and feared, or a good partner and domineering. The same thing goes when you are being abused. You can’t be respected and assaulted, or cared for and used. You may look at your pennies and say, “There is just too much to change.” So start with yourself. Then change the people around you. It may be slow, but together we can imagine a world without violence in relationships.
 The U.S. Census Bureau: The 2012 Statistical Abstract Available at http://www.census.gov/compendia/statab/cats/population.html