Group to advise youth against violence

By Loa Iok-sin  /  STAFF REPORTER

Sat, Feb 14, 2009 - Page 2

How do you deal with a partner who may hurt you? How do you break up with such a partner without getting hurt? The Modern Women's Foundation will soon begin a tour of universities to discuss these issues with students to avoid a rise in crimes of passion.

“We often hear of news of relationships that end in violence or even murder,” foundation executive director Yao Shu-wen (姚淑文) told a news conference yesterday. “Our online survey shows that nearly 18 percent of respondents had been victims of physical or psychological abuse in relationships. This shows how grave the issue is.”

The survey was conducted through the Internet portal Yahoo-Kimo, with responses from more than 21,000 Internet users earlier this month.

Although the Internet survey is an informal one, Yao said it more or less corresponded to academic researches that said the figure ranges from 11 percent to 17 percent.

“It's important to identify if your partner is a potentially dangerous person — he or she can be one if your partner beats you, yells at you all the time, tries to know exactly where you are at all times, or wants you to do whatever he or she says,” Yao said. “If your partner is such a person, it doesn't mean that you have to leave him or her, but you should at least know how to get along with a person like that.”

One good way to learn to deal with a potentially violent person is to talk to a psychological consultant. Unfortunately, the survey shows that very few people do so.

“More than 70 percent of people would choose to talk to their peers when there's a problem in a relationship, but only 7 percent would seek help from their parents, and only about 8 percent would talk to a professional consultant. This really worries me,” Yao said.

Yao also talked of how to deal with a partner after he or she used violence for the first time.

“You can't just forgive him or her after he or she apologizes. You should maybe ask him or her to write a letter of apology so that he or she can really think about it,” she said.

“It would help, too, if he or she attends an anger management class,” she said.

It becomes more complicated when it comes to breaking up with a violent partner.

“People who are most likely to resolve conflicts, especially breakups, through violence are those who are more sensitive, psychologically unstable, or with low self-esteem,” said Huang Hsiao-fen (黃小芬), a psychology consultant at Taipei Physical Education College. “When they face a breakup, they may feel challenged and just lose it.”

Hence, Yao said, it takes some careful planning to break up with a potentially violent partner.

“There's no one way to go about it, as the situation may vary a lot, but you should always think about what may happen or even do a role play with a friend — always talk to a professional consultant first,” she said.

To prepare consultants and educate college students about the issue, the foundation will first organize training sessions for professional consultants later this month and start a tour of universities across the country next month, Yao said.