February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Dating is an important part of teens’ lives. It should be safe and fun. Dating is a way for teens to learn communication skills and about honesty, trust, and respect in relationships. They are discovering what traits they want in a partner. The emotions that go along with this learning can be difficult and hard to handle. That’s expected. What is not expected is violence in the relationship, whether it’s emotional, verbal, physical or sexual. Surveys have shown that as many as one in four teen relationship involve some type of violence. The results of these relationships can be devastating or even tragic.
Signs of an abusive relationship include one person
- telling the other what she or he can or cannot say
- being upset when his or her partner wants to spend time with other friends
- making his or her partner feel tense or afraid
- being the one to make all the decisions
- becoming angry over small things
- pressuring his or her partner sexually or bullying or forcing his or her partner to have sex when he or she didn’t want to
- shoving, pushing, kicking, slapping, or hitting his or her partner
Often teens in an abusive relationship have difficulty admitting the relationship is abusive. Once a teen admits the relationship is abusive, leaving it is hard and requires the support of friends and family. Since many teens hide the abusive aspects of their relationships, this is the point at which many people may first discover the relationship has been abusive. Counseling can help teens work through the feelings and emotions resulting from the abusive relationship. Those who have been abusive should also receive counseling to help them learn respectful ways of interacting with others, particularly in dating and intimate relationships.
Information for this post was taken from But He Says He Loves Me: Girls Speak Out on Dating Abuse by Nicole B. Sperekas. The book includes more information about all forms of dating abuse, how to leave an abusive relationship, and how others can help those who are in or who have recently left an abusive relationship. More information about the book is available here. Additional information about teen dating violence and how to prevent it is available on the websites of organizations like The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, Futures Without Violence, and FaithTrust Institute.