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Are you a victim of dating violence?

Your boyfriend/girlfriend resorts to intentional behaviors to control and dominate you. They want more power in the relationship and you feel your rights are often violated.

Psychological violence:

• They insult you and shout at you;

• They humiliate you, making you feel bad about yourself;

• They threaten you, causing you to be afraid of how they react;

• They insist on knowing who you’re with, constantly calling you or sending you messages;

• They control or try to control everything you do throughout the day;

• They threaten to break up with you when you express any uneasiness in the relationship;

• They are jealous of both male and female friends, colleagues/schoolmates or family members;

• They control or try to control the clothing and makeup you wear;

• They pressure you to have a certain image (e.g. to go on a diet);

• They break your personal belongings (e.g. mobile phone) to display their power;

• They become sulky and silent;

• They threaten to commit suicide when you try to address problems in the relationship;

• They try to convince you that you’ll be all alone if you break up with them.

Social violence:

• They make a scene, humiliate you, put you to shame and/or try to tarnish your image in the presence of your friends and family members;

• They pressure you to let them access your mobile phone, e-mail, Facebook account or social media sites or actually manage to access any of these without your permission;

• They pressure you or prohibit you from being with your friends or family members;

• They use the excuse of being jealous to cause you to distance and isolate yourself from your circle of friends and family members.

Sexual violence:

• They caress you, they impose physical contacts on you and kiss you without your permission (e.g. forcing kisses in public);

• They pressure or force you to engage in sex acts you don’t wish to perform (anal sex, oral and/or vaginal sex).

Physical violence:

• They grab you or tie you up;

• They throw objects at you;

• They pin you up against a wall;

• They push you;

• They slap, kick and/or punch you;

• They threaten to hit you.


These and other behaviors are but a few examples of those that occur during a dating relationship where violence exists. Violence can take on various forms, as the physical variety may or may not occur together with other types of violence. Still, they are all forms of violence!

Stop making a scene:

Violence is incompatible with love! Nothing justifies it, let alone jealousy!

A wholesome relationship comprises:

RESPECT for each other’s opinions;
TRUST, despite the existence of differing opinions, behaviors or tastes;
SUPPORT and mutual assistance;
SECURITY and sharing;
HONESTY and interaction without judging, manipulations or insinuations;
RESPONSIBILITY and awareness of one’s own behaviors and attitudes;
Personal FREEDOM, with no invasions of the other person’s space;
CONFLICTS AND DISAGREEMENTS, which can be resolved through NEGOTIATION and by looking for solutions together, while always refusing to engage in violence;
Some JEALOUSY, without ever using it as an excuse to attack, hurt, frighten or humiliate the other person.

I think there’s violence in my dating relationship. What now?

Don’t waste any more time!
Seek help, as there are several specialized services capable of providing clarification and support in order to deal with abusive relationships and to build wholesome dating relationships.
The support provided is confidential, free of charge, and you can see your doubts and concerns immediately clarified.

Remember that it’s normal for you to feel:


Ashamed of asking help from friends, family members, competent authorities;

That you are afraid of your boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s reactions;

You believe things will change;

That you like your boyfriend/girlfriend and that there are many things you don’t understand.

But this can change!

What is it?

It’s a public crime.

In terms of legal and criminal framework, violence committed within the dating relationship is considered domestic violence, pursuant to article 152 of the Portuguese Criminal Code.

Article 152

Anyone who, whether or not in a reiterated fashion, inflicts physical or mental abuse, including physical punishment, privation of freedom and sexual offenses:

a) Against the spouse or ex-spouse;

b) A person of the other or the same sex with whom the perpetrator has or had a dating relationship or a similar relationship to that of spouses, even if they are not living together;

c) A parent of a common descendent to the 1st degree; or

d) A particularly vulnerable person, namely by virtue of their age, deficiency, illness, pregnancy or economic dependency, who lives together with the perpetrator;

faces up to five years in jail, if a harsher penalty cannot be enforced by virtue of another legal provision.

1. In the case provided for under the preceding section, if the perpetrator has commits the act against a minor, in the presence of a minor, in a common household or in the home of the victim, he/she faces two to five years in jail.

2. If the facts provided for under sec. 1 result in:

a. Serious assault causing bodily harm, the perpetrator faces two to eight years in jail;

b. Death, the perpetrator faces three to ten years in jail.

3. In those cases provided for under the preceding sections, the defendant may be handed additional sentences that include being banned from coming in contact with the victim as well as from using and carrying firearms, for a period ranging from six months to five years, along with mandatory attendance of specific domestic violence prevention programs.

4. The additional sentence of being banned from coming in contact with the victim shall include staying away from the victim’s residence or workplace, as compliance herewith shall be overseen using remote surveillance equipment.

5. Anyone sentenced for a crime under this article, given the concrete seriousness of the fact and its link to the position held by the perpetrator, may be prevented from parental responsibility, guardianship or confinement for a period ranging from one to ten years.

Portuguese Code of Criminal Procedure (2013)

Who can report such a crime?

Since this is a public crime, anyone can and should file a report.

With police authorities:

Public Security Police (PSP);

Republican National Guard Police (GNR);

Criminal Police (PJ);


At the Courthouse – District Attorney’s Office;

At the National Institute of Forensic Medicine and Science (forensic medicine offices);

Via the electronic complaints portal of the Portuguese Interior Ministry.

Is this a common occurrence?

In various research initiatives, the scientific community has found worrying figures regarding the prevalence of dating violence.

At international level:

It is estimated that from 21.8% to 60% of young people are the victims of dating violence.

In Portugal:

A study with a sample of 4667 young people ages 13-29, in secondary, vocational and higher education. This study found that 1 in 4 young people admitted being the victims of dating violence (25.4%):

Emotional violence = 19.5%

Physical violence = 13.4%

Severe physical violence = 6.7%

And 30.6% of these young people admitted to being the perpetrators of:

Emotional violence = 22.4%

Physical violence = 18.1%

Severe physical violence = 7.3%

A study by Caridade & Machado, 2009

A study with a sample of 2500 young people ages 12 to 18. This study shows that:

16% do not feel that pressuring the boyfriend/girlfriend into having sexual relations constitutes violent behavior;

33% do not feel that banning the boyfriend/girlfriend from breaking up constitutes a form of violence;

32% feel that banning the boyfriend/girlfriend from being with or talking to anyone does not constitute a form of violence;

34% feel that accessing the boyfriend’s/girlfriend’s mobile phone is not a form of violence;

37% legitimize banning the boyfriend/girlfriend from wear a certain item of clothing.

Study conducted by UMAR, 2016

What are the consequences?

Victims of dating violence are more prone to:

• Suffer from depression and anxiety;

• Eating disorders;

• Post-traumatic stress;

• Academic underachievement;

• Sexual risk behaviors;

• Addiction to alcohol and/or other drugs;

• Greater risk of subsequent victimization, with dating violence constituting a predictor of domestic violence.

How to stay safe?

What to do if attacked?

• Scream;

• Ask for help;

• Seek help from family members, friends, neighbors or the authorities;

• Go to a hospital to be looked at;

• File a criminal complaint;

• Ask for help from institution specializing in this field.

When you wish to end an abusive relationship:

Care to be taken:

• Choose a public place or a place where there are other people;

• Take with you a friend or another person or you can trust who will stay close by;

• Do not confront your boyfriend/girlfriend or react violently.


Be prepared for any negative, impulsive and aggressive reactions. If these happen, do not respond violently and stay away from the place where you are;

Be prepared for the possibility of your boyfriend/girlfriend getting in touch with you to apologize or to attempt a reconciliation. If this happens, do not reply or back down from the decision you’ve made.

Breaking up doesn’t mean the end of the violence; it’s safer to:

• Change your mobile number;

• Change your e-mail address;

• Change the lock of your school locker;

• Look for alternative routes to the places where you usually go;

• Be sure to be accompanied by others;

• Talk about the situation with trustworthy people who could support you emergency situations;

• Keep a diary of the violence situations that have occurred;

• Save any contacts you need in the event of an emergency [112 in Portugal, local police, trustworthy person] on your mobile phone.

Available researches

If you are aware that someone is a victim:

• Be available to listen;

• Listen without judging;

• Be willing to provide support;

• Encourage the person to seek specialized help and/or to file a complaint.

144 – National Social Emergency Hotline (toll-free)

112 – National Emergency Hotline (toll-free)

800 202 148 – Information Service to Domestic Violence Victims (available 24h a day, toll-free)

APAV - Portuguese Association of Victim Support -

CIG - Citizenship and Gender Equality Commission -

Social and Cultural Center of Vila Praia de Âncora - Center of Assistance to Domestic Violence Victims -

Gabinete Atendimento à Família (Family Assistance Office) - Center of Assistance to Domestic Violence Victims -