Coping with dating violence: challenge and commitment of the Cuban medical university


Coping with dating violence: challenge and commitment of the Cuban medical university

Afrontamiento a la violencia en el noviazgo: reto y compromiso de la universidad médica cubana


Yamila Ramos Rangel1*
Laura López Angulo1


1 Cienfuegos University of Medical Sciences. Cuba.


* Author for correspondence. Email:




Dating violence is a social problem, a health problem and a violation of human rights. The Cuban medical university, in compliance with the challenge of the 2030 Agenda and the objectives of sustainable development is called to play a significant role in the consolidation of «being» in the future guardians of health. It urges that university students are prepared to face the scourge of violence that can manifest itself in dating relationships in adolescence and youth. It is the purpose of the authors to share some reflections on the subject, emanating from their research studies.

MeSH: intimate partner violence; gender-based violence; students; education, medical.


La violencia en el noviazgo es un problema social, un daño a la salud y una violación de los derechos humanos. La universidad médica cubana en cumplimiento al desafío de la Agenda 2030 y los objetivos del desarrollo sostenible está llamada a desempeñar un significativo papel en la consolidación del «ser» en los futuros guardianes de la salud. Apremia que los estudiantes universitarios estén preparados para afrontar el flagelo de la violencia que puede manifestarse en las relaciones de noviazgo en la adolescencia y juventud. Es propósito de las autoras compartir algunas reflexiones sobre el tema, emanadas de sus estudios investigativos.

DeSC: violencia de pareja; violencia de género; estudiantes; educación médica.



Submitted: 08/07/2020
Accepted: 07/02/2021



The changes in the structure and social organization at the planetary level, together with the accelerated progress of science and technology have had an impact on the social constructions of male and female identities, in the formation of love and love ties in its relational dynamics in the last century. In this direction, couple relationships in adolescence and youth as binding spaces of developing subjectivities can be an invaluable source of well-being and of great value for the development of each subject that makes up the love bond. This space of intimate-personal relationship constitutes a modulator of quality of life and fulfillment of human beings.

In adolescence and youth, the first couple relationships are established and relational styles are built, more or less functional and/or healthy, which can last over time and be repeated in future couple bonds; However, they interact in spaces with great deficiencies or insufficiently prepared to deal constructively with the demands of this type of affective bond without the necessary learning. Very often the first signs of dysfunction or abusive relationships appear at this stage.

A particular type of violence that in recent years has become a major social and health problem, including a violation of human rights is dating violence as it is known in Anglo-Saxon literature. This phenomenon is studied not only because of its magnitude, but also because of the seriousness of the individual and social consequences that it causes in both victims and perpetrators, and because of the possibility of reducing it through preventive and promotional actions.

Although most scholars affirm that it constitutes a relatively new topic in the research field, it is noted that more than sixty years ago Kanin (1957) was interested in this ignored or underestimated phenomenon of violence in the dating relationships of adolescents and young people. The prevalence study carried out by this author revealed that 62% of the female university students studied had suffered some type of sexual assault.(1)

Makepeace, a pioneer in this field, carried out an exploratory work in 1981 on the nature and prevalence of dating violence in 202 American college students of both sexes; From its results, an increasing number of investigations began to be generated, and consequently, of publications on the prevalence of the three main manifestations of aggression in the courtship: physical, psychological and sexual, both in its perpetration and Victimization aspect. In this study, 21.2% of the participants had suffered threats or direct physical attacks and 61.5% knew of cases of violence within the couple. This researcher warned that dating violence is a serious problem that considerably affects the physical and mental health of adolescents.(2)

In 1995, the WHO reported that 30 % of university students had disclosed some form of violence in their intimate relationships, and that over time some forms of verbal aggression became physical.(3) Today, internationally and regionally the figures reveal that these actions are more common than previously thought.(4) They run on a continuum that goes from verbal, emotional and psychological abuse to physical and sexual assault and murder. This violence is polluting, it emotionally and physically infringes and affects those who live it.

Investigations in the Cuban context with university students reported the presence of violence in their courtships, according to Romero Almodóvar in an interview carried out for Express Zacatecas on December 5, 2017. Identifying and offering early interventions that avoid the establishment of this relational style is currently an imperative.

The university stage is considered key for education and the strengthening of habits and behaviors in health. Students are the most valuable human capital within a university; therefore they are key to promoting and developing a healthy culture within their environment.

In correspondence with the challenges posed by Cuban higher education, one of its priorities is to provide students with comprehensive training that facilitates the full development of their personal and social identity, and that allows them to reach the necessary maturity to effectively face the difficulties that arise in life.

Professions related to health are fundamentally caring professions, that is, to look after the other and put knowledge and technique at the service of well-being. In this sense, it is important to point out that knowing how to confront and be competent in the correct identification of behaviors considered violent among university students of medical sciences is particularly relevant. Errors in the perception of the phenomenon will translate into defects in actions from detection to knowing how to treat, which depend on the competence of this professional as well as constituting a personal problem that requires urgent corrective interventions.

An investigation carried out in the Cuban context by Ferrer Lozano et al.(5) indicates that there is still a low perception of violence as a health problem, a poor level of active search for morbidity due to this cause as part of the diagnosis in the analysis of the health situation, as well as limited specialized spaces in this sector to care for survivors of violence and aggressors. They share the criterion that, in general, health professionals have difficulties when it comes to detecting and addressing this problem, so that more than 70% of cases are invisible to health care eyes, it is not possible to identify the problem underlying violence even when this is the root of the physical or psychosomatic problems for which the victims demand attention.

The invisibility of the presence of dating violence in university students throughout the world, and in a particular way in Cuba, tarnishes the quality in the fulfillment of the object of work of health professionals in the areas of personal, family, community and social; in the modes of action (both in the clinical method and in the epidemiological method) from the detection, care and help to the survivors of any of the forms of abuse; and the professional´s profile because it reveals fissures in the level of integrated development of their knowledge, skills, abilities, values and levels of motivation on the subject, as elements for self-improvement and acting independently and creatively.

If to this is added that students and health professionals (who have a preponderant role in its approach) can survive in violent love ties that they do not recognize, make invisible and naturalize, then there is an «enormous Achilles tendon» in the struggle against the eradication of all forms of violence. Their modes of action must correspond to the social commitment demanded by Cuban society, placing health, dignity and equality of people at the center of attention. Preparing them to become agents of change by promoting a stance of rejection of violence is everyone's business.



1. Kanin EJ. Male aggression in dating-courting relations. American J of Sociology [Internet]. 1957 [citado 16/01/2020];63:[aprox. 7 p.]. Disponible en:

2. Rey Anacona CA,Martínez Gómez JA. Violencia en el noviazgo. Evaluación, prevención e intervención de los malos tratos en parejas jóvenes. Colombia: El Manual Moderno; 2018.

3. Organización Mundial de la Salud. Violencia contra la mujer. Beijing: Naciones Unidas; 1995.

4. Rubio-Garay F, López-González MA, Carrasco MA, Amor PJ. Prevalencia de la violencia en el noviazgo: una revisión sistemática. Papeles del Psicólogo [Internet]. 2017 [citado 07/06/2020];38(2):[aprox. 12 p.]. Disponible en:

5. Ferrer Lozano DM, Guevara Díaz EL, Martínez de Ring ME. La violencia como problema de salud. Miradas desde la realidad cubana. Gac Med Espirit [Internet]. 2020 [citado 06/06/2020];22(1):[aprox. 10 p.]. Disponible en:



Declaration of interests

The authors declare no conflict of interest.



Contribution of the authors

Yamila Ramos Rangel: conception of the idea, literature review, writing, critical analysis, article editing.
Laura Magda López Angulo: literature review, critical analysis, article editing.



This article has been published under the Creative Commons license.

Copyright (c) 2021 EDUMECENTRO

Licencia de Creative Commons
Esta obra está bajo una licencia de Creative Commons Reconocimiento-NoComercial-CompartirIgual 4.0 Internacional.