This year, Kentucky legislators have successfully taken an additional step in protecting victims of domestic abuse by passing a new “dating violence” bill, House Bill 8.

The bill was recently signed into law by Gov. Steve Beshear and is considered one of the more successful products of this year’s legislative session. The bill’s lead sponsor was state Rep. John Tilley, D-Hopkinsville.

Kudos to those who helped with the passage of this formative bill that ensures protections against abusive relationships, but I am especially pleased to see the terminology referred to as “dating violence,” instead of “domestic abuse.”

For me, and probably plenty other young people, “domestic” translates to mean “in the home.” Therefore, when I think of domestic abuse, I typically picture the relationship in question as being between a married couple.

However, protections against “dating violence” lead me to infer the abuse is occurring between a young, unmarried couple.

With more and more couples choosing not to become married, I think this is an excellent clarification to the law. But also, I think the new terminology will encourage more young people to report instances of abuse.

But there is another demographic, other than young people, that deserves to be highlighted.

A study by the Center for Disease Control published in 2012 found more men were victims of “partner abuse” than women.

The data was based on a 2010 national survey by the CDC and the U.S. Department of Justice and found in the 12 months prior to the survey release, more men were victims of physical violence in their relationships and more than 40 percent of men were victims of severe physical violence.

Men were also more likely to be subjected to psychological aggression. The study also found less services were available to help male victims of dating violence than there were for women.

Men’s Health section on About.com published an article last summer written by their health expert that addressed this issue.

It stated each year in the U.S. about 3.2 million men were victims of physical abuse by their intimate partner.

“Most assaults are of a relatively minor nature such as pushing, shoving, slapping or hitting, though many are more serious — and some end in homicide,” the article read.

It is important to realize the different realities between women and men who are victims of dating violence. Each form is terrible and unacceptable, but men often do not report their incidents.

It seems the psychology of the situations are different. By nature, men are usually larger in stature than their female partners and are, therefore, usually brought under psychological or emotional abuse before being physically abused.

Since the psyche is already damaged, many men may not feel empowered enough to report the abuse — possibly thinking they would appear weak, that nobody would understand why they let their girlfriend get a physical advantage on them. Or maybe their partner convinced them they, in some way, “deserved” that treatment based on a past wrongdoing.

Though these are all hypothetical, it is important for men and women to realize the new bill on dating violence can create better security against abusive partners than ever.

For instance, stalking was added to behaviors that legally qualify as “domestic violence or abuse.” Language for foreign protective orders has been added.

A new section (Section 19) was added to the now 63-page bill addressing the definition of “dating violence” and what types of relationship qualify for this protection.

I strongly urge anyone who knows  a victim of dating violence or domestic abuse, or who is a victim, to review the new law and learn the new protections available.

No matter what the situation is between a person and their partner, nobody deserves to be abused in any form or fashion.

There may have been many criticisms about if the Kentucky General Assembly was productive or not during this short session. For me, the passage of this law definitely qualifies as a successful step in the right direction.

LANA BELLAMY can be reached at lbellamy@dailyindependent.com or (606) 326-2653. Follow @lanabellamy_DI on Twitter.

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