It isn’t uncommon to turn to a page in a magazine and see a statistic on teens and their love life. For example, 57 percent of teens say they regularly go out on dates, and a third says they have a steady boyfriend or girlfriend. Also according to a survey done by Mediamark Research, Inc., out of 4,600 teens surveyed ages 12 to 17, 12 percent are currently in a relationship with someone they have been dating for more than a year. What isn’t as common is to hear that about one in three high school students have been or will be involved in an abusive relationship.
Dating violence does not just occur between adults, it occurs among teens as well. It can happen to any teen no matter their race, gender, economic level, religion, or sexual orientation. Unfortunately, many teens may not recognize the signs of abuse.
Romantic views of love can cloud the reality of their situation. Peer pressure is no stranger to teenagers and some teen abusers are pressured by their friends to act out violently against their partner. Young men may feel they have the right to control their partners or that they are displaying their masculinity by being physically aggressive. Young women often mistake their boyfriends’ possessiveness and jealousy for love.
Teen dating violence needs to be addressed and people need to realize that it does happen. Because many teens do not realize that they are in a violent relationship, it is up to us, their friends and family, to help make them aware and to help recognize the warning signs. Often times when problems occur in any situation, outsiders, such as friends and family, are usually the first ones to notice that something is wrong. Both friends and family can play an important role in supporting a teen going affected by dating violence. Not only can they notice the warning signs before others, but they can be there to support their child or friend.
Below are list of questions you can ask yourself to help figure out if a teenager you know is in an abusive relationship:
- Have they become more isolated from family and friends?
- Do they not enjoy doing activities that they use to enjoy?
- Do they spend excessive amounts of time in contact with their partner?
- Are they afraid to displease their partner?
- Have they changed the way they act or dress?
- Have they been physically injured by their partner?
- Do they have unexplained injuries?
- Have they become more aggravated and/or less independent?
- Do they cancel plans or seem nervous to participate in certain activities?
- Have they been called names, embarrassed, ridiculed, or insulted by their partner in front of you or other people?
- Do they apologize or make excuses for the actions or behaviors of their partner?
- Have they shown a loss of concentration?
- Have they had unexplained injuries?
- Do they seem persistent to be home at certain times to receive/make phone calls?
- Do they seem withdrawn from what is going on around them?
Do you think you may be in an abusive relationship?
Below are some questions that you can ask yourself to find out if your relationship is unhealthy/abusive.
Does your partner…
- Have a short temper?
- Act very jealous?
- Exaggerate fights?
- Tell or suggest what you should wear?
- Try to limit who you talk to?
- Make you tell him/her where you are going and who you are with?
- Tell you when you have to be home?
- Put you down?
- Take up most of your time?
- Hurt you physically or throw things at you?
- Get angry when you disagree with them?
- Pressure you to engage in sexual activity that you feel uncomfortable with?
- Make you feel like you can’t say no to sexual activity?
- Embarrass you in front of others?
If you or someone you know is experiencing teen dating violence please know there is help available.
- Teens can call the national teen dating abuse helpline at 1-866-331-9474 or chat online with a Peer Advocate at http://www.loveisrespect.org.
- For tips on how to talk to your teen about dating violence you can visit http://www.teendvmonth.org/about-teen-dating-violence.html.
- To speak to a Hubbard House advocate about domestic/dating violence please call (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119.
ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE
Founded as the first domestic violence shelter in Florida in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 5,000 women, children, and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic childcare, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.
By Marina Martin