Categories
Adolescence Recovery

Are You a Victim of Dating Violence?

TeenDatingViolence-MetroFamilyDating violence comes from a desire to control a partner; it is an issue of maintaining a vertical hierarchy, believing that their role in the relationship is to “be in charge”–to “wear the pants,” so to speak.  Abusive behavior is a result of learning from a dysfunctional source: A child who grows up watching their father dominate their mother is more apt to do the same when they are in relationship. A child who grows up witnessing violence begins to think violence is normal and acceptable. When we learn something from a skewed perspective, our norms become skewed as a result. Additionally, when someone learns about sexuality via abuse, they are more apt to sexually abuse a partner. When someone learns to communicate by witnessing domination and control, they will eventually use the same dysfunctional means of communication.

There are higher rates of mental health and substance abuse issues in teens who have been victims of violence or who are delegators of violence. It’s not uncommon for those suffering from addiction and mental health issues to have an underlying band of trauma from violence weaving its way through the psyche. Deep, untended fear is often expressed through violence and efforts to control people, places, and things. This results in teen dating violence having a big impact. Loveisrespect.org is a site dedicated to raising awareness about dating violence through education, community, and action. The statistics around dating violence are significant. Loveisrespect has provided hard facts supported by research and empirical evidence which I am including here:

  • Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year.
  • One in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner.
  • One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped, or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend.
  • One quarter of high school girls have been victims of physical or sexual abuse.
  • Girls and young women between the ages of 16 and 24 experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence — almost triple the national average.
  • Violent behavior typically begins between the ages of 12 and 18.
  • The severity of intimate partner violence is often greater in cases where the pattern of abuse was established in adolescence.
  • About 72% of eighth and ninth graders are “dating.”
  • Violent relationships in adolescence can have serious ramifications by putting the victims at higher risk for substance abuse, eating disorders, risky sexual behavior, and further domestic violence.
  • Being physically or sexually abused makes teen girls six times more likely to become pregnant and twice as likely to get a STI.
  • Half of youth who have been victims of both dating violence and rape attempt suicide, compared to 12.5% of non-abused girls and 5.4% of non-abused boys.

There is a lack of awareness regarding teen dating violence. Paralyzed with fear and embarrassment, many teens don’t say anything to anyone. Asking for help is regarded as shameful, fear of retaliation is overwhelming, and because there is little knowledge about legal ramifications, many stay quiet.

  • Only 33% of teens who were in a violent relationship ever told anyone about the abuse.
  • 81% percent of parents believe teen dating violence is not an issue or admit they don’t know if it’s an issue.
  • A teen’s confusion about the law and their desire for confidentiality are two of the most significant barriers stopping young victims of abuse from seeking help.

You also can refer to this Circle of Violence; it breaks down each type of domestic violence and action that take place. None of these are acceptable or deserved. Small problems can become large problems faster than the blink of an eye so it’s important that we seek help and begin the process of extricating ourselves from violent situations. Start with finding one person who is safe, who believes you, and who can advocate for you. Stay away from those who victim-blame, telling you it’s your fault or asking if you are “sure” it’s true, and from people who deny your reality. Getting out is scary; it takes a serious act of bravery to move toward safety. But there are people who will help you. There is a way out. You deserve much, much better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories
Adolescence Bullying Self-Care Sexuality

Starry-Eyed and Lovelorn in Adolescence

Remember when you were a teenager, falling in an out of love faster than your jeans could stay in style? Remember how devastating the subsequent heartbreak was when your current flight of fancy moved on? The drama and excitement of it all is exacerbated by adolescence. I can distinctly remember the all-or-nothing perspective I had when it came to love or what I thought was love as a teen. At times, it can be overwhelming and because there is sometimes a vacancy where parental trust should be, it can also be lonely.  Growing up is tough, and matters of the heart lend an element of pain to the already awkward, bungling nature of adolescence. And no, this isn’t a bash on being a teen. I was one once, and I will always remember the sense of untenable angst and confusion.

The truth is, relationships happen. All the time. They are an inevitable part of life unless you are a hermit, in which case, you may have some other issues to tend to. So, how do navigate that stormy sea? Let’s see:

  • Be yourself.  You are good enough just as you are. When we try to act like something or someone we’re not, we create expectations that may eventually lead to letdown. Ouch.
  • Mutual respect. You deserve to be being loved and respected for who you really are and not who someone wants you to be. Respect also means your partner will respect your boundaries without pushing you to accommodate their wants and needs.
  • Trust. It’s one of the most important ingredients in creating and maintaining relationships.  Are you overly jealous? Is your partner? Without trust, relationships tend to stand on rocky ground—this is true for friendships and romances.
  • Develop skillful communication: Ideally, you are in a relationship with someone who honors you and your feelings. If something is bothering you, talk about it. We hear this too often: “men and women speak different languages.” While this may be true at times, instead of shutting down, we can learn to ask for clarification when we don’t understand what’s being said.
  • Retain your autonomy. Sure, it can be fun to do absolutely everything with someone…for a while, but in doing so, have you made your boyfriend or girlfriend your “everything”?  Make time for those that were in your life before this relationship, and more than anything, make room for yourself. You should never have to give up things you like, or the friends you keep because your partner isn’t into them.

With the starry-eyed disposition of many adolescent relationships, it’s safe to say that many move with the tides, but sometimes things do go awry, presenting difficult challenges. Domestic violence can easily seep into teen relationships. The warning signs that this might be happening include:

  • Verbal abuse, including insults, unkind language, degradation.
  • Physical abuse, including slapping, shoving, of forcing sexual activity.
  • Control of who you spend time with and what activities you do: in other words, attempting to isolate you.

If you recognize any of these behaviors or recognize a friend or loved one who may be experiencing anything like this, get help. You deserve to be happy, not abused.

And remember: “Be who you are and say what you mean. Because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.” Seuss