Franklin Countys First News

Teen dating violence awareness

Written by Sydney Abbot

FARMINGTON - “1 in 10 teens reported being hit or physically hurt by a boyfriend/girlfriend. Across studies, 15-40 percent of youth report perpetrating some form of violence towards a dating partner. Perpetrating dating violence in adolescence increases the risk of perpetrating violence toward a partner in adulthood. Exposure to dating violence significantly affects a range of mental and physical health problems. 33% of adolescents in America are victim to sexual, physical, verbal, or emotional dating abuse.”

Many people are blown away by the shocking statistics of teen dating violence. Society dismisses extreme jealousy, fits of rage and obsession off as part of “teenage love” that’s why boys and girls all around fall victim to Teen Dating Violence. At such a young age it’s easy to mistake jealousy and control for adoration.

Initially, in domestic violence relationships a partner may present as extremely charming but soon they begin to isolate and control the victim. Once it begins, it will continue to get worse. “My boyfriend doesn’t let me wear that shirt,” or “My girlfriend doesn’t let me have friends that are girls,” can escalate to “I’ll kill myself if you break up with me,” or “I’m worth nothing without you, you can’t leave me.” Jealousy evolves to manipulation the manipulation turns to rage. The rage grows and grows. That's not “high school love” - its abuse.

Victims of teen dating violence begin to believe that they deserve the abuse. The hell becomes so familiar that it seems to be easier to stay rather than leave. Victims seem to find it easier to live with the shame and guilt in secrecy to them it’s easier to stay and suffer in private than to try to leave and be humiliated in public.

Do any of the following unhealthy relationship characteristics describe your relationship with your boyfriend or girlfriend? If not, do you see these trends among any of your friends’ relationships?

Moving too fast: One minute you can be on your first date and the next minute you’re being pressured to do something you're not ready for, like having sex. Abusive partners can coerce you into doing things you don’t want to do. They may bring on the guilt by manipulatively intimating that if you really love or care for them, you’ll do what they want.

Suffocating paranoia: An abusive partner’s paranoia can suck the breath right out of you. That person’s emotional insecurity leads to destructive behavior, If you can’t make a call, text or even see your friends without your boyfriend or girlfriend knowing, then you may have a stalker and not a partner.

Severing relationships: People who abuse are often extremely jealous and insecure. In an effort to get you all to themselves, they will monopolize your time and push away friends and family. Unfortunately, you may not even realize what’s happening until you're in over your head.

Domineering and possessive: Power and control are at the heart of teen dating violence. Abusive partners are very possessive. They will go to great lengths and use any means necessary to keep you close and control you.

Throwing verbal and physical jabs: Abusive partners prey upon your weaknesses and vulnerabilities. They use humiliation, put-downs and insults to dig at your feelings of self-worth. In doing this they make you feel as though you are not good enough and that nobody else would want you. They may use you as a verbal and physical punching bag.

Don’t stay in a relationship that tears you down rather than building you up. If you or someone you know is experiencing teen dating violence you are not alone. Please contact Safe Voices at 1-800-559-2927 for support, resources or just to talk.

About the author: Sydney Abbot, 17, is a senior at Leavitt Area High School, and a passionate advocate for survivors of dating violence and domestic abuse.

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