When we think of abusive relationships, we most often think of adults, often married couples. But the truth is, unhealthy relationships can begin at any age and teens are at risk of being in abusive relationships. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 percent of high school students report being hit, slapped or physically hurt by their boyfriend or girlfriend. Others are subjected to emotional abuse or sexual abuse, with LoveIsRespect.org stating that one in three adolescents has been a victim of some type of abuse from their dating partner.
Young girls often believe they are the “problem solvers” within the relationship. They might believe it is their job, as a girlfriend, to keep the peace and make their boyfriend happy. They might see possessiveness and jealousy as romantic and the constant texts and phone calls as a sign that he cares. Others might feel uncomfortable within the relationship but be afraid to tell anyone. They might see violence at home or be worried their parents will be angry and disappointed.
Teen dating violence is found among all socio-economic groups and all racial groups. As with adults, the victims of teen dating violence are mostly girls, however, controlling, demeaning and violent behavior toward boys can happen as well.
Warning Signs of Abuse
Abuse comes in many forms and because all relationships are different, the signs of abuse can be different. In general, if you are hurt (physically or emotionally) or forced to perform sexual acts you don’t want to do, you might be in an abusive relationships. Some common warning signs of an abusive relationship include:
- Looking through your phone, purse or other personal belongings without your permission
- Checking up on you by following you or texting you constantly
- Telling you who you should talk to and who you shouldn’t talk to
- Extreme jealousy
- Texting you constantly when not together
- Demanding to know who you talked to and who you were with when not together
- Isolating you from your friends and family
- Monopolizing all of your time and becoming angry (or pouts) when you are not together
- Having an explosive temper
- Accusing you of cheating
- Telling you what to do
- Physically hurting you in any way
- Coercing you into sex even though you don’t want to
- Putting you down, teasing in a hurtful way, belittling you
- Using physical or emotional means (threats) to cause fear
- Humiliating you in public
- Mood swings
- Blames others for problems
- Cruel behavior toward children or animals
It is common for the abused partner, usually the girl, to believe the abuse is her fault and that if she loves her partner enough or tries harder, she will be able to change him. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and the abuse and violence often escalate instead.
If you, a friend or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, the first step is to reach out for help. If you don’t have a parent you can go to, try talking with a school guidance counselor. If you don’t feel safe, doing so, there are online resources or a 24 hour helpline you can call at LoveIsRespect.org.
- Helpline: (866) 331-9474
- Live Chat: Lick on the “Live Chat” button at LoveIsRespect
- Text “Help” to 22522
“Dating Abuse Statistics,” Date Unknown, Staff Writer, LoveIsRespect.org
Published On: September 17, 2014