Teen Dating Violence
What is dating Violence?
Dating Violence occurs when a person repeatedly threatens, or actually acts in a way that physically, sexually or verbally injures their girlfriend. It can also mean that one person is constantly intimidated by the other.
Dating violence is serious. It can result in murder. One in three women in the United States is murdered by their husband or boyfriend. It usually occurs when a relationship is serious or steady.
Kinds of Dating Violence
Emotional abuse occurs when a boyfriend insults, humiliates or constantly criticizes his girlfriend. It usually starts with intense jealousy or possessiveness. This jealousy leads to accusations, intense questioning and/or verbal harassment all in the name of "love."
Other signs include being with someone who makes you feel "crazy" and/or doubt yourself. The recipient of emotional abuse is isolated from their family and the abuser threatens to reveal secrets or tell lies about them (i.e., that they are a lesbian, promiscuous, crazy, etc.) to their family or friends. The abuser destroys the victim's independence.
When asked, "What are some of the ways you have been EMOTIONALLY ABUSED?" teens answered:
- Yelled at
- Money stolen
- Verbally harassed
- Constantly being blamed for partner's own faults
- Called names
- Constantly accused of flirting or having sex with others
- Repeatedly interrogated
- Treasured possessions broken
- Labeled "crazy" or "stupid"
Physical abuse can mean being pushed, hit, slapped or attacked with a weapon. This kind of abuse is not a one-time incident, but happens again and again.
When asked, "What are some of the ways you have been PHYSICALLY ABUSED?" teens answered:
- Hair pulled
- Cut with a knife
- Kicked in the stomach when pregnant
- Held arm so tight it bruised
- Hit head against wall
- Slapped/punched in face, arm
- Arm twisted
- Hit with object
- Beat up
- Fingers bent
- Dumped out of a car
Sexual abuse means that your boyfriend forces you to have sex or coerces you into sex by threatening to leave you.
When asked, "What are some of the ways you have been SEXUALLY ABUSED?" teens answered:
- Called sexual names
- Wanted sex after hitting
- Made me walk home nude
- Forced sex
- Forced me to do "disgusting" sex acts
- Bit, pinched breast
- Acted indifferent
- Threatened to get a new woman
- Slapped, pinched to get his way
- Forced to have sex without protection
Are you a victim of dating violence?
- Are you frightened of your boyfriends temper?
- Are you afraid to disagree with him?
- Do you find your self apologizing to yourself and others for your boyfriend's behavior when you are treated badly?
- Have you been frightened by his violence towards others?
- Have you been hit, kicked, shoved or had things thrown at you?
- Do you not see friends or family because of his jealousy?
- Have you been forced to have sex?
- Have you been afraid to say no to sex?
- Are you forced to justify everything you do, everyplace you go and every person you see to avoid his temper?
- Have you been wrongly and repeatedly accused of flirting or having sex with others?
- Are you unable to go out, get a job or go to school without his permission?
- Have you become secretive, ashamed or hostile to your parents because of this relationship?
If you find that you answered "yes" to most of these questions, you may be in a violent relationship.
Scars caused by abusive relationships
- Physical scars -- Do you have injuries, bruised or broken bones? Have you suffered a disability such as hearing loss or paralysis as a result of being beaten?
- Neglected appearance -- To avoid triggering your boyfriend's anger do you dress in unattractive clothes? Are you afraid to look attractive? Have you gained or lost a lot of weight because of the stress and nervousness of being abused?
- Fear -- Are you fearful or nervous a lot of the time? Are you terrified of making mistakes or saying the wrong things? Do you have nightmares or flashbacks about violent things that were done to you?
- Shame -- Do you feel ashamed, as if there is something terribly wrong with you? Do you question yourself, your decisions, your abilities and your appearance?
- Isolation -- Are you isolated and alone? Have you lost your friendships and relationships with your family because your boyfriend demanded it?
- Protective feelings -- Do you feel you protect your relationship with your abuser, even though it is not good for you?
- Depression -- Do you feel like you have no energy? Are you tired all the time? Do you have trouble thinking about your future? Do you think your life is worthless? Do you think about killing yourself?
What to do if you are being abused?
Whether you stay in the relationship or decide to break it off, there are several things you can do to protect yourself.
Take the abuse seriously.
Let your abuser know that physical, sexual and emotional abuses are dangerous and serious. You don't deserve it and make clear you won't allow it. Insist that they seek counseling. If they do not comply, you need to be prepared to follow through with your intent to leave the relationship.
Plan for your safety.
Think of a safety plan for their explosive behavior. For example, arrange for a safe place to stay, enlist the help of friends and family to accompany you to and from school, and make teachers and counselors aware of the problem.
Find someone to talk to.
It is important to find an adult either within your family or at school whom you can talk to. Also, if you have an understanding friend, rely on them for support and encouragement. You may also want to enlist the help of your school counselor, social worker, friend or family member to find a counselor or support group to for yourself. If necessary, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-333-7233 for information and support, or contact the Victim Services Team for referral information at 303-430-2400, ext. 4210.
You deserve safety.
You deserve a love that doesn't hurt so much.
You deserve to wake up every morning and feel free, not afraid.
You are strong and you can be safe and you can protect yourself from violence.