Dating abuse is a pattern of controlling behavior that one partner uses to get power over the other. Dating violence can be physical, emotional, financial or sexual and it's often hard, especially as a teen, to identify.
One in three teens experience dating violence. We must speak out to break the cycle of abuse.
Cycle of Abuse:
<-> Tension between a teen and their partner <-> Explosion outburst of violence that can include emotional, sexual, or physical abuse <-> Honeymoon Period the abuser apologizes and "makes up" for the behavior <-> Tension
While every relationship is different, the one thing in common in abusive relationships is this: violence escalates over time and becomes more dangerous to the victim.
The abuser will often place blame on their victim. No matter what happens, abuse is never okay.
Power and Control Wheel:
How do I know I'm being abused, yo?
Does your significant other:
- Act jealous or possessive?
- Constantly check your cell phone or email without permission?
- Criticize you?
- Put you down?
- Have terrible mood swings?
- Have an explosive temper?
- Make you feel bad about yourself?
- Try to control what you do, where you go, and what you wear?
- Tell you to stop seeing friends and family?
- Blame you for the hurtful things they say or do?
- Text, call, or IM you too much?
- Threaten to kill or hurt you (or themselves) if you dump them?
- Try to force you to have sex?
- Slap, hit, punch, push or kick you?
These things are not cool. If your partner is doing these things you need to get out of the relationship. It's not healthy and can seriously mess with the way you think and see things in the future.
Am I an Abuser?
- Call your partner names?
- Monitor their email or profile online?
- Feel you have a right to know where your partner is at all times?
- Get angry or jealous when your partner spends time with family or friends?
- Text, call or IM them all the time and get mad when they don't respond?
- Ask them to change their style of dress?
- Restrain them to stay when in the middle of an argument?
- Push, punch, kick, or slap them for any reason?
- Guilt or force them into having sex?
- Threaten to hurt yourself or them if the relationship ends?
- Get in their face during an argument?
If you recognize yourself in any of these things, get help. I'm not saying that to be mean, or hurt your feelers: I'm saying it because I care and I want you to be full of the awesome.
How To Breakup With An Abusive Partner:
It's never as simple as adults and well-meaning friends make it out to be. It's normal to feel some apprehension and sadness - no matter how unhealthy the relationship - about the breakup.
Let friends and family know you're ending your relationship - especially if you think this might be a matter of safety.
If you feel scared or unsafe, don't breakup with your partner in person. Yeah, breaking up with someone via email, or text, sucks, but it also provides you the distance to stay safe.
If you feel afraid, TRUST YOURSELF. Your body is rigged with some defense mechanisms that detect people and situations in which we should be afraid. Listen to your gut instincts. They're there for a reason.
If you do break up in person, consider doing it somewhere public. Have friends or family wait nearby if you're afraid that your former partner might lash out.
Don't explain your reasons for breaking up over and over again. It won't help to make your ex happy.
If your ex comes over while you're home alone, don't answer the door.
After The Breakup:
If you feel in immediate danger call 911.
Keep your family and friends in the loop so they can support you.
If at all possible, tell your parents about the abuse so they know what to do if your ex comes to your house.
Explain the situation to someone you trust at school. That way, you can alert security or adjust classes to make you feel safer.
Avoid isolated areas and don't walk home alone.
Stick with a friend anywhere you think you might run into your ex.
Save all threatening emails, voicemails, or texts.
I think my friend is being abused. HALP!
It's tricky to try and talk to a friend who may or may not be abused by their partner. Knowing what to say, how to say it, if you should say it at all - those are all complicated questions. Know that speaking up and saying something is better than staying quiet and saying nothing. It could mean all the difference in the world to your friend. They might be afraid of speaking up for themselves, but if you point out what you know, they could be more likely to talk.
Here are some helpful tips to talking to your friend:
Mention specific dates, times, and things you've seen with your own eyes to let your friend know why you're concerned. They might be ashamed of the abuse and trying to hide it. If you can pinpoint specific details, it will help them to know someone cares enough to notice.
Listen to what they have to say and let them know you're always available to talk.
Don't give your friend an ultimatum. This is just being a sucky friend.
Offer to get your friend information about teen dating violence and mention other people (teacher, counselor, their parents) your friend might want to talk to.
Let your friend do most of the talking. While you may want to fill in the awkwardness with your own blather, it's important to let there be silences and pauses in the conversation to allow your friend to talk freely.
Avoid judgement. Unless you've walked a mile in their shoes, chances are, you don't know how it feels to be them. So don't pretend you do.
Talk privately and keep whatever the conversation unearths confidential. It's not your business to spread tales about your friend. If you think they are in immediate danger: CALL 9-1-1. Do NOT try to stop the abuser.
When you talk, don't make them feel stupid or ashamed. Abuse happens to one in three girls and the shame surrounding abuse is often what keeps girls from talking openly about dating violence.
Ugh! I've talked to my friend, but they won't leave the person! WHY?
They believe the abuse is normal.
They're afraid of what may happen when they end the relationship, especially if their partner has threatened them.
They're ashamed to admit that they've been abused and they may fear the judgement of friends and family.
They may still love the abuser; believe that he or she can change.
They may have developed low-self esteem and low-self worth by being told by their partner that they were worthless.
If the abuser is popular, they may worry no one will take their side if they break up.
They may worry that adults won't understand.
They may distrust police and not believe that law enforcement can truly help them.
They may have no money if they leave their abuser.
They may have nowhere to go.
Teen Dating Abuse Hotlines:
National Dating Abuse Hotline: 1-866-331-9474 (1-866-331-8453 TTY)
Dating Abuse Resources:
State-by-State list of teen dating abuse laws (from 2010)
Safety planning for leaving an abusive relationship for teens and college kids from Break The Cycle.
Take Action in Safe Space.org - tips for parents, friends, and those suffering from teen dating abuse. Excellent site with a ton of good resources.
Choose Respect - sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is an initiative to help adolescents form healthy relationships to prevent dating abuse before it starts. This national effort is designed to motivate adolescents to challenge harmful beliefs about dating abuse and take steps to form respectful relationships.
Directory of Crime Victim Services - designed to help service providers and individuals locate non-emergency crime victim service agencies in the United States and abroad. Search by location, type of victimization, service needed, agency type.