ABOUT TEEN DATING VIOLENCE
Being a teenager is exciting, challenging, and confusing. Dating is one of the most awesome things about being a teen. Your teen years are a time when you find your place in the world, and are faced with a lot of challenges.
Although dating can be fun and exciting, it can create issues. You may have difficulty deciding if you want to date just one person, or go out with lots of people.
You may feel rejected by someone you ask out and they turn you down. You may have fights with your partner. You might be bullied and abused by your partner ... you might feel hurt, or could hurt your partner if one of you decides to end the relationship. There are no simple solutions. Learning how to deal with these issues is one of the challenges of dating.
While we want to believe that hand holding, moonlight walks, gifts, sweet words, and loving glances are all part of a dating relationship, and that these new feelings and experiences are so wonderful … it isn't always that way!
Do you know that teen dating violence is a form of bullying?
You could be in a relationship where your partner is verbally, emotionally, physically, or sexually abusive. Maybe you're afraid of your partner. Maybe you think that it's your job to make the relationship work. Maybe you don't know that it's notokay for your partner to beat you. Maybe you're afraid that there's no one else in the whole world who would want you. Maybe you think it's your fault that your partner is so abusive … after all … they don't treat anyone else that way. Maybe you're afraid to tell anyone!
Dating violence affects about one in ten teen couples.
Teenagers can often misinterpret abusive and violent behavior as a show of love. Hitting, yelling, threatening, name calling, and using and hurting you sexually isn't love!
Verbal and emotional abuse
can include ridiculing, name-calling, threats, constant criticism, controlling, belittling, and other negative behavior to scare their partner or destroy her/his self-esteem. Both men and women have long-term effects from this type of abuse. Verbal abuse, like physical abuse, is rooted in the low self-esteem of a partner. It's also rooted in the helplessness, guilt, and confusion of a partner who allows another to treat them this way. Submitting to this behavior in the name of love doesn't work and is self-destructive.
Date rape is rape!
Whether by a friend or acquaintance, it's a punishable crime! Males and females have very different ideas about what dating means. A man may expect it to end in a sexual experience. That's not always true. A woman may view it in friendly or romantic terms. A rapist uses assault as power and control. He'll use force to get his date to do what he wants. He may not be overtly violent - that's why date rape is hard to prove. Sometimes his victim isn't even sure she's been raped. She may feel confused and guilty about the assault - not angry.
Abuse usually happens because one or both partners has been abused as a child, or comes from a family where one or both parents is abusive. The media also plays a part in portraying violence. The abusive partner has not learned positive and peaceful ways of solving problems. They don't know how to deal with fear, jealousy, or anger which can trigger violence. These problems begin in the way people learn to relate to others during childhood.
Signs of Abusive and Violent Behavior
- Does your partner get jealous when you go out or talk with others?
- Does your partner constantly check up on you, call or page you, and demand to know where you've been, and who you've been with?
- Do you find your partner saying "I can't live without you? If you leave me, I'll kill myself."
- Does your partner frighten or intimidate you?
- Does your partner frequently cancel plans at the last minute, for reasons that don't sound true?
- Does your partner try to restrict you on the way you dress or criticize your appearance?
- Do you feel like you have to justify everything to your partner?
- Are you constantly apologizing and making excuses for your partner's behavior?
- Are you afraid to break up with your partner because you're afraid for your personal safety?
- Does your partner call you names and put you down in front of others?
- Are you afraid to disagree with your partner, or make him/her angry?
- Has your partner forced or intimidated you into having sex?
- Does your partner put you down and then tell you he/she loves you?
- Has your partner held you down, pushed, or hit you?
- Has your partner thrown things at you?
- Does your partner make you choose between him/her, or family and friends?
- Have you seen your partner lose his/her temper, maybe even break things when they're mad?
- Does your partner beat you and then apologize, saying they'll change and they'll never do it again?
Dating Violence is a pattern of violent behavior! It can also occur in same-sex relationships.
If you find yourself in a violent or potentially violent relationship:
- Keep a dated record of the abuse … no matter how minor it seems
- Don't meet your partner alone or let him/her in your home or car when you're alone
- Avoid being alone at school, work and on the way to and from places
- Vary your routes and times of travel to and from home, school & work
- Tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back and plan and rehearse what you'll do if your partner confronts you or becomes abusive
- Most importantly: think of your own physical safety! Reach out for help to family, friends, police, counselors or a spouse abuse center.
Remember, you cannot change the behavior of another person!
Help a Friend Who's in an Abusive Relationship:
- Express your understanding, care, concern and support
- Listen to your friend and don't be judgmental
- Tell your friend that violence under any circumstance is unacceptable
- Encourage your friend to confide in a trusted adult and suggest they see a counselor or advisor you both trust
- Never put yourself in a dangerous situation be being a mediator
- Call the police if you witness an assault … love your friend enough to do it
- Be critical of your friend's partner
- Ask blaming questions
- Assume your friend wants to break up with his/her partner, or that you know what's best for your friend
What You Can Do:
- Start a peer education program on teen dating violence and present programs at school, church, clubs, or in your community
- Ask your school library to purchase books about dating, child, and domestic violence
- Raise awareness by making posters or hosting programs at school during National Child Abuse Prevention month in April and during National Domestic Violence Awareness month in October
- Produce plays in your drama program that address teen violence, child abuse and domestic violence
- Get involved with a bullying prevention group, a child abuse prevention group or a domestic violence group… that's where Dating and Domestic Violence usually begins
Places to Contact for Further Information:
- Local Battered Women's Shelters or Rape Crisis Centers
- Dating Violence Hotline 1-888-799-SAFE
- National Domestic Violence Hotline 1.800-799-7233
- Rape Abuse and Incest National Network Hotline 1-800-656-4673