Watch out for bad boyfriends

Date Abuse coverDate Abuse

Again we have an important topic, totally appropriate for teen collection in a public library.  However the cover art is just dated and more than a little odd.  It looks like our abuser is trying to lift her up by the belt loops. I get the feeling they wanted a threatening cover, but not “too” threatening. I absolutely think this book is a weeder just on the cover alone. Regardless, I would also like to point out the “don’t blame the victim” speech followed by the comments about how dressing a certain way sends the wrong message.  (Just to be fair…)

I know these materials have costs but old is not better than nothing.  I also know that some of our local women’s shelters have pamphlets and other resources that should augment your collection as well.   Teens deserve something more current than this.


Date abuse contents

Date Abuse inside flap

Unsure masculinity

Abusive dating cycles


  1. I know that the “dressing” thing is a hot potato and no excuse for inappropriate behavior. The problem is 16 yr. old boys are a mass of hormones that will influence their judgement. If a girl is scantily dressed and heavily made up he will probably not make the connection that she is trying something new or trying for a different look. She may want to attract guys but not be abused by them; he on the other hand may look at her as a “green light”. This is a problem but I have no idea about any solutions.

  2. Let’s face it, we’re all guilty, no matter what the age, of judging people based on looks and how they dress. Recently, I was on the site and there was a woman who was unattractive according to society’s standards, wearing a shirt that promotes breast cancer awareness – basically said “I love my boobs” but the love was an upside down heart. Loads of people saying nasty things about her.

    Now while how anyone, female or male, is absolute NO excuse for sexual assault, it can’t hurt to teach young girls – and boys – to dress in a more modest manner. For one thing, it does give the wrong impression. It could make their attacker feel they’re justified and like it or not, the victim could end up blamed just because she was wearing a micro-mini skirt.

    Plus, let’s face it, kids today dress too slutty. I’ve seen shorts for girls that were basically nothing but those boy short type undies. And remember when – I think it was Ambercrombie & Fitch – got in trouble selling thongs for four year olds? They should be enjoying being a child, not dressing like a 40 year old hooker.

  3. I think what everyone is missing here is that it really doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing, the threat of violence against her is purely dependent on her being a woman out in public.

    What we should be teaching children and young people is not only how to dress appropriately (in the sense of what you would wear to a job interview vs to a dance club), but how to respect one another regardless of sex, gender, race, whatever–including what one is wearing. Hormones are not an excuse. The assumption that “boys will be boys” because of raging hormones excuses and downplays abusive and degrading behavior. They should be taught to transcend such things, and just friggin’ control themselves.

    I understand that people are going to be nasty, and they will say things regardless. However, there is a line between making an awful comment online and interpreting a mini-skirt as license to grope or abuse someone.

  4. Rape is a choice. Not something boys can’t help. As witness no matter how short the skirt, you never see raging hormones drive a boy to grab some girl in the middle of the hall with everyone watching. And women have been raped wearing burkhas, ankle length dresses, nun’s habits, etc.
    The solution is teach boys, over and over, that no matter how a girl dresses, that doesn’t give them the right to rape her. And that getting carried away in the throes of passion (that was sarcasm) and ignoring a No is rape. Not sexy. Not legal. Not moral.

  5. In reference to the post itself–Isn’t verbal abuse a form of emotional abuse? It seems unnecessary to mention both.

    To the conversation in the comments–Obviously rape is never the victim’s fault. I fully believe that women should be able to dress however they want without having to worry about the repercussions. However, that’s not how our society works. Even if a woman who is wearing tight and/or revealing clothing isn’t raped, she will be judged by many, many people for it, and she SHOULD be aware of that. Young girls need to learn how to dress in a way that can look good while not drawing unnecessary attention. It wasn’t that long ago that I was a teenager, and I know perfectly well that there is often a disconnect in how girls TRY to look and how they actually do.

    Also, Fraser, boys can be raped too, by either boys or girls, and they tend to suffer even more because we usually dismiss the possibility, let alone give male victims any form of support. Every time someone talks about rape as a crime where the guy is always the perpetrator and the girl is always the victim, it further ostracizes male rape victims.

  6. Holy victim-blaming, Batman!

    Rape victims include the elderly, children, the mentally challenged, males. How many of them do you think are out there working a miniskirt and a thong?
    Do you know what attracted serial rapist and killer Ted Bundy to his victims? Long hair, parted on the side.
    Many of his victims were attacked while asleep.
    We need to put these myths of “the provocative dresser” and “uncontrollable male hormones” to rest. They’re not just misguided, they’re actively dangerous, because they perpetuate this atmosphere in which violent perpetrators are not reminded that their impulses are their own problem and their own responsibility. These myths encourage perpetrators to go on thinking that their own behavior is someone else’s fault.
    And by the way, this culture also gives lip service to the idea that females need to dress “modestly” while saying out the other side of its mouth that skimpy clothing is pretty, desirable, and alluring. This society blasts both messages at girls and women, and judges them harshly no matter which one they choose.

  7. When it happened to me I was wearing baggy jeans and an athletic t-shirt and really beat up sneakers. Clothing has nothing to do with it. It never does, it’s just an easy excuse to avoid blame.

    We ALL need to take a step back and think about what we are saying and thinking here. There is no other crime where we care about what the victim was wearing. Oh, he was robbed? Well he was totally asking for it by wearing those tight jeans to show off his big wallet. Seriously, wtf. The sooner we stop thinking that it’s ok to judge a victim by her clothing the sooner we can start properly punishing rapists and actually work on real prevention.

    Let’s get over the complacency and work to change how society works. Don’t accept this garbage, fight to change it.

  8. @lulu – There is also no other crime where we consider the victim’s previous sexual history. Just because a person may have had sexual relations with one (or more) previous partners, does not give anyone the right to assume that they are no longer allowed to say “no.”

  9. Leigha, since the discussion I’m objecting to was on how girls who dress improperly will get into trouble because men can’t control themselves, it would seem logical to focus on that. Just as you discussed how girls shouldn’t dress in ways you don’t approve and didn’t discuss men.

  10. Like Lulu, I was wearing baggy khakis, an old T-shirt, a standard Jockey cotton panties and bra, and sneakers. It was not about the way I was dressed, as it so rarely is. It was about making himself feel in control, better about himself, or whatever “rationale” appears in the sick and twisted mind that doesn’t understand “NO!” means no, as it so often is. Yes, there are people out there with uncontrollable sexual urges, and, yes, dressing certain ways send certain messages, but the stereotype of the horny stranger jumping out of the bushes to accost a scantily clad girl doesn’t help many victims of sexual assault.
    I agree a good, up to date book with a list of resources is a must in any teen collection. If the chapters on what to do don’t include a recommendation to see a doctor stat with a comprehensive list of STDs to be tested for and a checklist of questions to ask the doctor to record, recent information on the legal aspects (a lot of states are sadly still too far in the dark ages, but more and more are changing their laws and educating first responders), and encouragement to get help from those qualified to deal with victims of abuse and rape (my counselor was a big help to me), get a book that has this information – as well as those pamphlets from the local women’s shelters.
    NPR had a fascinating discussion a few months ago about how sexual assault and to some extent abuse are exceptional crimes in that often the victim ends up the one on trial. As pointed out, these questions rarely come up with victims of other crimes. Callers rang in to complain of the use of terms like “the accused” in reference to someone on trial for committing crimes of sexual abuse, saying this seems to contradict “innocent until proven guilty” and how horrible it is to have the stigma of being a rapist or abuser attached to someone until they’re firmly convicted of it, etc. (Like living with the potentially devastating emotional and psychological scars of being a victim of rape or abuse doesn’t deserve attention or sympathy…) The expert responded that this is another case where rape and abuse are for some strange reason opposite land: you rarely hear the public ask lawyers not to use “the accused” (which is the proper legal term, by the way) in reference to someone standing trial for charges of drug dealing, theft, or murder because it isn’t nice to attach that stigma to them just in case they might be completely innocent.

  11. @Fraser–I actually never said anyone shouldn’t dress in any particular way. I said girls need to be more aware of people’s perception of how they dress. And the reason I didn’t include boys in that is because boys don’t normally have people telling them they’re dressed like sluts. Walk down a school hallway. All the boys will be wearing either jeans or shorts and a T-shirt or a hoodie (or sports jersey, I suppose), except maybe a few wearing khakis or polos. The girls, on the other hand, will be wearing skirts, dresses, shorts, jeans, khakis, yoga pants, leggings, T-shirts, tank tops, sweaters, crop tops, hoodies, blouses. The guys’ shorts will all be about knee length; the girls’ shorts and skirts will be anywhere from knee length to just barely covering their butt. The guys’ shirts will all fit basically the same; the girls’ shirts may be low-cut or tight. When talking only about casual, everyday clothing, it matters far more for girls. The way I see it, if a girl wants to wear a tight, low-cut shirt and a mini-skirt, she has every right, but she needs to be aware of what people might think of her because of it. It wouldn’t really bother me any. The only clothing choice I have any personal objection to is leggings as pants.

    I still think it’s ridiculous that we treat sexual assault the way we do. As Anne pointed out, it somehow always ends up being the victim on trial, even when there’s no outright victim blaming. While I concede that there are people who make false accusations of rape, I would have to say they are by far the minority and it’s unfair the way the justice system often treats anyone pressing sexual assault charges as though they’re probably lying. But really, the number of people who ARE victims of sexual assault is astronomically high. It’s what, like 1 in 5, I believe? Just think about that. Think of the sheer number of people you see every day who have been in that situation. When you put it that way, there is absolutely no way to justify the way it’s handled in our society.

  12. Two things to add to my last comment:
    If what made you think I was saying people shouldn’t dress a certain way was the sentence “Young girls need to learn how to dress in a way that can look good while not drawing unnecessary attention,” I’d like to clarify that I actually meant to say unwanted and I’m not actually certain why I didn’t type that. I didn’t even realize I hadn’t. But I still think I made it pretty clear that I was talking about awareness.
    Also, of course guys should be aware of what people think about how they dress as well, but that’s mainly limited to things like loose pants that sag halfway down their butt, T-shirts with inappropriate (in any way) sayings or images, gang-related symbols, or emo or goth-type clothing, most of which are true for girls also, and none of which are really relevant to this conversation.

  13. Holy victim blaming! No. Just, no. I don’t care if the girl walks around naked, if her boyfriend abuses her it is a CONSCIOUS CHOICE that has little to do with what she wears. Often abusers can control their anger around everyone else; they simply make a conscious choice that their girlfriend/wife isn’t worth holding back on. That has nothing to do with clothing and everything to do with the abuser’s psychological issues.

  14. Fraser-I agree with your whole post.

    That cover is just darn weird, it looks like the girl’s jeans have ridden up and are stuck on her breasts or something.

  15. Yeah, regarding the cover, looks like his primary form of abuse is giving really bad wedgies. Pants don’t go that high naturally.

    @Emily: Amazing.

    @lulu, regarding “Oh, he was robbed? Well he was totally asking for it by wearing those tight jeans to show off his big wallet.” : YES, we DO say that, all the time! “Well yeah, I mean, I’m sorry he was mugged and all, but you know how he liked to show off that watch…” “Look at that! I could grab his wallet out of his pocket right now. Serve him right for making it so easy!” Kinda brings me back to when somebody smashed the rear windshield on my friend’s car because of all his gay-pride bumper stickers. No, it’s not okay for someone to do that. It’s a hate crime and whatnot. But, if you’re going to put a dozen rainbow stickers – a lot of them confrontational – on your car, park it in the same place in a busy parking lot every day, and pretend you live in an accepting, not-primarily-homophobic community and nothing will happen, you’re fooling yourself. Drawing too much attention to yourself is asking for trouble. Go to a foreign city, sling your camera around your neck, keep your guidebook open at all times, look up at all the tall buildings, and speak English as loudly as possible. Then see how much your cab driver charges you. People are opportunistic. They’re also mean. But really, when I see that guy with his wallet bulging in his pocket, I have a hard time not taking it – and I’m an upstanding citizen! I see cars with so many bumper stickers it’s obnoxious even if I agree with the sentiment, and I want to take a permanent marker and edit them – “Tangent, unnecessary.” “Cite your source!” “Good thesis statement!” “It’s, not its!” “Repetitive.” “Repetitive.” “Repetitive.” And when I see a teenage girl dressed like a sex kitten, I look at her body first and it takes me a while to see her face and realize how young she is. And when I figure it out, I’m absolutely disgusted with myself for checking her out. But this doesn’t happen with girls who’re dressed more properly, or even in a “sexy-but-confident” way. I look at them, I know immediately they’re waaaay too young and I’m not interested – there aren’t any sex-thoughts at all. You dress like sex, people think sex. (You dress in all yellow, people think banana. You dress in all green, they think pickle. It’s simple.)

    That said, I’d be very very VERY happy if all men AND women would observe the “look don’t touch” rule, PLEASE. I’m tired of strangers touching my tits and ass and any other body parts they’ve decided are appropriate touching places.

    I said to my friend, after one such incident: “Even if it was someone eighteen thousand times hotter than me (George W. Bush?), wearing the most ass-flattering pants in history, and I knew they had a rare disease that left them completely desensitized to any feeling on their ass region, I would not feel that I had the right to brush my hand up against them on my way to the beer cooler.” I mean, really!

    Yeah I talk too much.

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