Date violence has been one of the most talked about topics in South Korea the last few months. Posts about actual date violence spread like wildfire via social media, inciting the ire of the public and in some cases prompting prominent authors to make public apologies or denials. In fact, 2015 was probably the first time in history that date violence became a publicly discussed issue.
Since June 20, Huffington Post Korea has been collecting first-hand accounts of victims of date violence. We have narrowed them down to the nine stories below. Parts of their accounts have been edited to protect their identities.
"What is "Date Violence"?
Definition: Physical, emotional, verbal, sexual and/or economic assault by a current or former acquaintance one was dating or in a relationship with.
Definition: Direct and indirect assault aimed at controlling/affecting another's behavior.
Case 1. Being forced to have sex without a condom is rape
Sexual intercourse caused my first and second pregnancies. Throughout our relationship, though without much hope, I asked over and over again, dozens of times for you to use a condom. Eventually I gave up, unable to convince you to change your continued habit of going without. It took me a long time, but I finally came to realize when a partner forces penetration even after being asked to put on a condom, that act constitutes a form of rape. The two times I became pregnant was due directly to your refusing to wear a condom.
I bore all the cost of having the pregnancies aborted. It happened in 2008, but only last year was I able to have you reimburse me. At first, I asked for half the cost, which I received after some time elapsed, then I asked for the rest. You refused to give me the second half, saying that you didn't feel like answering to a second request since I could have asked for it all at once.
While we were going out, you once took me to an empty bathroom in some random building and shoved a bar of soap up my anus. There was also normal penetration. Even as someone with low self-esteem and no idea of a woman's right to her body, I could not help but feel the humiliation and disgrace, and my spirit sagged. I told you all this after we left the place and were on our way to the train station, but you ignored me.
For me our relationship was, in a lot of ways, an opportunity for growth. I tried to grow from the traumatic time with you because I felt I'd die if I let it overwhelm me without seeking remedy. On the other hand, I also wanted to remain your friend, even though our end was horrific and you were clearly the instigator of date violence. I hoped you would repent and actually become a better person, thinking that we could perhaps meet again one day without the burdens of the past. Even after I saw the news about a sexual assault case in which you were implicated, I hoped for years that you would learn to take responsibility for your actions in an honorable, wise manner.
But I can say now with certainty that all such hopes were just that, just wishful thinking. If the only way for me to grow was by striving to get beyond our pain-encrusted relationship, I realize now that I shouldn't have bothered. Not knowing you, not meeting you would've been the best thing for my life. I doubt I will ever meet someone more evil than you, though I realize it's not impossible.
I am not going to forgive you and will remember your sins until my dying day. I will also pray that you will thoroughly pay for your crimes while you're on this planet and that you will truly repent. I hope that you will not be able to hurt or injure another innocent person. You have already committed too many sins. If you know shame, stop and repent in silence. If you wish to apologize and ask for my forgiveness, please do it with deeds rather than words.
To past victims: Free yourself from thinking you should remain charitable to the sex offender. Ask yourself honestly whether that attitude is justifiable, whether it isn't hypocritical. Remember, the sex offender is at fault while you deserve support and empathy. It's society's role to reform sex offenders, not yours.
Case 2. Hair yanked and beaten during study hall.
I'm a 20-year-old female who's preparing for a study abroad. I met my first boyfriend when I was a high school sophomore. We broke up after a year and while I was smarting from that pain, another guy friend comforted me with a hug. At first we were just friends, but as he was so good to me, we became closer. Then one day he said he loved me. Because we were in the same homeroom and also because I was the classroom representative, I refused to go steady at first, But he was so persistent that I thought, "He really must like me," and began going out with him. I knew he'd been a part of a gang during middle school, but he told me that he'd changed and, believing I'd witnessed those changes, I began seeing him in earnest despite all my friends' protests.
We had the same study hall. On days when he was scolded by a teacher or when he was simply in a bad mood, he would strike me. I have a much older brother who's a public employee. He used to bring me cake or pizza or other snacks after work. I'd ask my boyfriend over to share them, but when he came he would eat his fill and then, for no reason, throw the rest of the food at me. I tried to pass these events off as pranks, until it came time for his birthday...
I prepared a total of $40 worth of presents. As he attended late night study sessions at school and I didn't, he came afterwards to study hall to get his gift. He was not happy. For my birthday, he gave me nothing, but what he said when he saw mine was: "This is it?"
He grabbed my hair, pushed me against the wall and began slapping me. Then he led me outside by the hair and slapped me some more. The owner of the facility came out, worried, but he continued to slap me and kick me. A few days later, after I said I was sorry - because I was afraid that I'd be beaten again - I took him to a nice steak restaurant. Including drinks, it was another $40.
After paying for the bill, we were walking back to study hall. Suddenly he smacked my forehead and grinned and ran as if it was the funniest thing in the world. Furious, I chased after him. As I was about to reach him, he knocked my hand away, the one that had been holding my iPad, which fell and cracked. Later I found out it was going to cost $150 to fix so I asked him to cover $60 of it. He said okay, but then a few days later he said, "I don't have any money to waste on you." After that I stopped talking to him.
I changed to a different study hall. A couple weeks went by when someone in study hall said that a person had come to see me. It was him. He caressed my face as if nothing had happened. I was horrified but because I was afraid of getting struck again, I did nothing. If it were now, I would've gone straight to the police, but at the time I thought that was love.
We separated about a year ago and since then I haven't had a boyfriend. There have been guys who's asked me out but I hesitate, afraid of repeating past mistakes. As I'm reading back over these words, it's hard for me to believe these things actually happened. But they are true and I write them hoping others will be able to avoid a similar fate.
Case 3. Beaten for refusing to make out
We weren't going steady yet. We were having a drink when he suddenly sidled up and began grabbing my breasts and kissing me.
When I pushed him off saying I didn't want to, he shoved me and struck my head and stomach, saying I was crazy.
While I was folded over from pain, he caressed my cheeks and said "Sometimes my temper gets the better of me, so you have to understand." I was frightened out of my mind.
Assault, verbal abuse
Case 4. Someone chasing me after we separated
I currently work as a researcher. I never imagined that I'd become a victim of date violence.
I was 26 when I met him. Though he was 25, a year younger than me, we began our master's degrees at the same time. He and I became close very quickly because we had similar politics. He seemed a little immature, but I figured that was just age.
I think it was either the first or the second time when we got in a fight. He yelled, "Shut the fuck up!" When I told a friend about it, she said I should end the relationship right then. Still, feelings aren't so easy to turn off and I continued to see him. But eventually I decided to break up with him because it became obvious that he was just too immature (he even asked me about how to throw his father in jail for hitting him).
The day we broke up, we were at a concert together. It was a band I'd really wanted to see so I'd bought the tickets. It was awkward because I'd already made up my mind to break up.
At the end of the concert, he suggested we go somewhere for a talk. I said no and told him to just take me home.
I got in his car. The traffic was backed up with the concert crowd going home. We began talking but as the conversation got heated, I didn't want to be in the car anymore. When I tried to open the door and leave, he accelerated the car on purpose. I tried 2-3 more times, realizing it could actually get me killed.
Somehow I got away and was walking from the car when I heard something coming up hard behind me.
Before I could finish thinking, "He's coming after me, what do I do?", I was splayed on the ground after being shoved hard from behind.
I had to be in the hospital for two weeks while the bastard took off nonchalantly in his car.
Not one motorist leaving the concert stopped to check if I was okay. That was a scary reality.
I caught a cab and headed straight for home, but as I got nearer I became more scared.
I remembered that there had been a big kitchen knife inside his car. I didn't know why it was there but I thought he might be waiting for me near my apartment with it.
Once the fear overtook me there was no way to contain it, and so through tears, I called the police and made a complaint. They came and escorted me home.
My landlord was really wonderful. Seeing me crying and escorted home by the police, she comforted me with a hug and even helped me change the lock combination to my apartment.
When the police called my boyfriend, he yelled at them, saying, "I'll pay the fine, so tell her to go ahead and file a charge." They were flabbergasted.
Then the police said, "We'll make a formal charge tomorrow, so be ready!" and hung up.
I stayed with my landlord that night and was going through Facebook when I read what he'd written about what happened. He wrote, "My only regret is not punching her."
So I was preparing a formal complaint when I got a text message that in effect said, "I'm sorry. I apologize."
I think I wrote back with something like, "If you don't want to go to jail, you better shut up and shape up."
And since then, I haven't been able to commit to a relationship. There were a few times when it almost happened. Still, when I remember that my old boyfriend, who seemed like a perfectly normal guy and by society's standards quite a catch, suddenly turned insane like that, it's hard for me to trust men.
Case 5. Physical assault began less than a week into living together
Two years ago, I was going out with a guy seven years older than me.
After living together for less than a week, he started assaulting me. We were watching TV together. After a K-pop idol appeared on the screen, I sent a text message to a girlfriend. Suddenly, he turned crazy angry and told me to get out. Cursing me, he pushed me out, then threw my bag at me. I loitered for a while, then returned home after apologizing. I'm not sure why I had to apologize but that was the only way to avoid more trouble. It was only the beginning.
One day, as we were returning home, jokingly I teased him. He went berserk and began cursing then kicking things alongside the road, then literally dragged me home. Once we were inside he cursed and threw my bag at me again and told me to leave. It was past midnight. I had nowhere to go so I checked into a nearby inn then returned home after another apology. I learned later the reason why he'd been so irate was that he'd somehow figured out my password and gotten into my Facebook and messaging services where I'd confided to a friend, "I'm not happy with my boyfriend. I want to break up." At the time, I felt responsible for hurting him emotionally but I realized also his breaking into my social media account was a serious breach. But that was the first time that kind of thing happened and I was more concerned about the emotional sorrow I caused him, so figured if I was nice to him, things would blow over.
But it got worse, and I decided to return home to my parents. He cursed and pushed me again. I asked him why he was cursing and he said, "You deserve to be cursed at." My self-esteem hit rock bottom and rather than anger I was emotionally maimed. I must've thought that I deserved being cursed at.
Then one day I was waiting at a bus stop to meet him. I called him on his cellphone but he wouldn't answer and my battery was running low. So I went to the bar that we'd planned to go to that night and waited for him while recharging my battery. After the phone was charged I called him again. He was furious. I told him that I came to the restaurant to charge the battery because he was not at the bus stop on time, to which he said angrily "Why don't you properly charge your battery? Pathetic." I was so angry I told him we should break up and walked out of the bar..
It was raining outside. I saw him trudging toward me with crazy written all over his face. Grabbing me by the collar, he began to curse and shove. I thought he could well strike me, so I ran away. Afterwards, I told him to leave me alone, that I'd notified the area police, that he'd better not come anywhere near me. Then he called my parents and began badmouthing me. Of course, my parents were on my side, protecting me from the madman.
About a month passed and, foolishly, I called him out of pity. He cried and said he loved me, that he missed me. My heart went out to him again.
So we started seeing each other again, and one day, in the middle of a perfectly normal conversation, he began fuming like a maniac and I was so overcome I slapped him. Then he assaulted me. After all the verbal abuse, I slapped him once because I couldn't take it anymore, but he claims that I started everything by slapping him, completely ignoring the fact that he hit me afterwards. And everyone blames me.
I think he began to rage and became physical when he started to suspect that I might leave him. He'd told me previously about his father's propensity for physical violence, and always put his mother on a pedestal for enduring and still loving such a husband.
Since then I've learned what abusive men are like and have avoided them, but it's still not easy to really trust them. For he, too, on the outside was a very sweet and caring partner, almost enough to make me consider marrying him.
Case 6. Finally broke up from an abusive relationship, but blackmail began
I dated him from February to December 2013.
There were instances of physical assault and verbal abuse but because he always said he was sorry and promised to never do it again, we went on, at least until my birthday when he went at it again.
After breaking up, his text messages see-sawed between curses and apologies, but I never answered him. I wanted nothing to do with him.
He even came to my house. He also tried to contact me through my parents and my siblings.
I still ignored him.
The following year, on Feb 2, 2014, he followed me in a car outside my house. He grabbed my arm through the open window, forcing me to hop along.
Trying to get free of him, I struck out and hit his face. He filed a formal charge with the police for battery.
Fortunately, I was let go with a suspended sentence but I've had a very tough year, trying to fight him and the legal system.
During the investigation I collapsed several times. I was already suffering depression, and with all that the lawsuit entailed, it got so bad that I had to check myself into an asylum. I even attempted suicide.
From that day (Feb. 2), he began posting curse words and ridicule aimed at me on social media and blogs. He would even message me directly with blackmail as well as calling my mom and my brother, making unfounded accusations.
What was truly insane was that he'd post all these curse messages but then act contrite and say he'd stop, only to start soon after.
When I blocked his communication, he used a mutual acquaintance's phone to contact me. It got so ridiculous I filed a complaint with the police of everything that transpired.
In the end he was assessed a $2,000 fine.
There was no apology. Instead his attitude was "I'll get you back." So I filed another charge against him for assaulting me in September 2013 for which I'd gone to the emergency room.
He was fined another $2,000.
The reason date violence is so scary is that as long as the victim is not dead, the penalty meted out to the offender is very weak. He goes pretty much scot-free.
I was surprised again when I learned during the proceedings that he'd landed a white collar job. When I first met him he was jobless.
I, on the other hand, had lost my job because of him.
In this tight job market, it's ridiculous that a guy who was fined twice for assault goes to work in his fine suit and enjoys life while his victim suffers.
The shock the victim experiences does not necessarily dissipate with time.
The real comedy is that people like him get reduced sentences for acting contrite in front of the prosecutors and judges, but never once have to apologize to the real victim.
He still has not apologized to me, not once.
Even now, I always look behind me when I'm walking, for who knows when he'll suddenly pop up and try to assault me again?
Assault, blackmail, verbal abuse
Case 7. Beaten all night
I began graduate school in 2012 and starting in April 2014, began a serious relationship with a guy who started school with me during the same year.
And beginning immediately, he showed signs of acute jealousy.
He tried to keep me from talking with other male students and discouraged praise or mere mention of them. He also kept a close eye on my text messages.
Then he insisted we record a sex video. By doing that, he said I would be proving that I felt different about him from all the other boyfriends. I resisted but his insistence and anger finally wore me down and we made the video.
Since he made the video with his smartphone it only showed me, my face and my private parts. Afterwards, whenever we fought, he'd threaten to put it on a messaging app and also on the internet.
Then in July and October last year, he slapped me, kicked me and spat on my face.
One reason I couldn't break up with him, despite these abuses, was that I saw him nearly every day at school, but the other reason was that each time we fought he practically brainwashed me into believing that I was a whore, a slut, and that I deserved getting hit. Of course, he always apologized afterwards.
I put up with those days of hell because at other times he could really be sweet and caring.
Then in March this year, he called me at 3 in the morning after a drinking bout. I simply said goodnight and hung up.
Incensed that I wasn't more solicitous, he came to my apartment and beat me for four hours straight.
I was slapped about 200 times, kicked about 20 times, choked, and spat on. He repeatedly said, "I'm gonna kill you today." When I tried to run away, he grabbed me back inside and beat me again.
Physical assault that began at 3 continued until 8 o'clock when the cops finally arrived. I was moved immediately to the emergency room and remained in the hospital for three weeks for fractured ribs, among other things.
Currently the case is open against him but he also filed a charge for assault against me. That was because when he stuck his finger in my mouth I'd bitten him from reflex. He claimed he sustained two-weeks' injury and thus the counter-charge.
As we both attend the same school I thought I would visit the dean and ask what remedies there might be, but he actually seemed annoyed, saying, "What can the school do over a fight that you two had?"
And that sex video that he promised me he'd erased right after? It was found on his computer hard drive at home. Maybe he thought he could use it to blackmail me in the future...
The case against him for battery, imprisonment, illegal video, blackmail, etc. is still ongoing.
Case 8. Jealous boyfriend threatened murder
I was the victim of date violence in my sophomore and junior year. Currently, I'm a high school senior.
I was in a relationship with a guy five years my senior.
We were like any regular couple at first, but date violence began to rear its ugly head. He was very jealous and very attached. I never cursed when we fought but he'd be verbally abusive, using words like "fuck" and "son-of-a-bitch." When he was sick, he'd threaten me, saying, "I'm sick because of you. If you continue acting up, my friends will mess you up." Once when we were fighting near my house, he grabbed my arm so hard that I got bruises. He also punched the wall and raised his fist as if to hit me.
Another time, he broke his knuckles and had to go to a hospital after punching the wall again. He said it was all my fault. When I became a junior, he went into the army to serve his mandatory two years. While there, he was diagnosed with tonsil cancer. He accused me again, saying, "Because of you, I'm not gonna get treated. If I die, you'll be to blame. If you had behaved, this kind of thing wouldn't have happened," and tried to guilt-trip me into visiting him in the army. I couldn't go because I had no money but he told me to get it from my parents.
I wanted to break up with him but I was afraid. I'd hinted at it before, but gave up when he threatened to commit suicide.
After making my life hell with his jealousy or attachment complex, he would ask me to understand, citing his unfortunate childhood - how he grew up with only his dad after his mother ran away, how his dad then began to womanize, and also that his brother committed suicide. He'd promise to "mend his ways" but if he couldn't he said there was nothing he could do about it. In reality he never mended his ways, nor even attempted to.
When I asked him not to be jealous, he blamed it on "his mother and past girlfriends who were loose." He also treated me as if I were a slut who went around sleeping with everyone.
I've never been a loose person and am a decent student. When he didn't believe me, I showed him all the text messages and photos I shared with my friends - actually it was more like he forced them from me.
Even with all that, he would continue badgering me, claiming I "could have made them up." So I finally said we had to break up and said no to his words of contrition.
Then he threatened, "You and your family will be sorry." He rattled off all the people and he and his father knew (he was always going on about how one of his father's friends was a gang member) who would "visit where [my] father worked and mess everything up." He also threatened to "kill" me.
He then ordered his friends to send me text messages and make phone calls to the effect that I was a whore and to spread rumors that I was a weirdo. He even called my new boyfriend and said all kinds of nasty things about me (not sure what kind of lies they were, as he wouldn't tell me).
He continues to try to get into my message groups or my blog. He's probably watching my email even as I'm writing now. Thank you for reading my story.
Case 9. Beyond physical violence
When I first met my boyfriend who was four years older than me, I was just getting started in the job market. We'd both had a hard life and quickly formed a bond.
But thanks to him, I learned that violence is not only striking another person or cursing at someone.
When we were with others, instead of respecting me, my boyfriend would always try to dominate me.
He would scold me in front of my family and dominate me in front of my friends, as he did when we were with his friends.
"You're young," "You know nothing, " "What did I tell you?" These were the kinds of things he'd say to belittle me. He would also boast about his physical prowess over other people.
I think without being conscious of it, I began losing self confidence.
He also talked about how he had a history of self-abuse and said frequently "I could kill myself right now." At the end he would add, "I live because of you," as if that was some kind of gift.
When I told him that I wanted to break up, he cried and pleaded with me. I felt bad and my heart ached but I said no more.
It was then he showed me his wrist. There was a scar on it as if it'd been cut with a razor. Then he left.
After several hours, he sent me a text message blaming me for what happened and saying that I would never be able to see him again. Then he cut off all communication.
Of course he didn't die that day, for he continued to send me messages blaming me again and again.
I'm not sure whether that kind of thing constitutes date violence.
But for a long time, I had to suffer a ton of guilt and depression as a result. When guilt and depression becomes a routine, your life becomes hell.
I just wanted to point out that physical assault and getting cursed at aren't the only types of date violence.