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You might be surprised to know 1 in 3 teen relationships show signs of dating violence. Think about yourself and two of your closest friends (male or female). Statistics show one of you will be in an abusive relationship. In fact, females age 16-24 are at the highest risk since their group makes up the largest percent of dating abuse victims.
That’s a large number, but you might be wondering what exactly makes an abusive relationship. Most people think of physical violence such as hitting, slapping, kicking, punching, etc. However, physical abuse is just one of many types of abuse, and some abusive relationships don’t have physical violence.
Teen dating violence is defined as a pattern of behavior that includes physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual abuse used by one person in an intimate relationship to exert power and control over another. Dating violence or domestic violence can occur at any age, but teen dating violence typically refers to situations where the individuals involved are between the ages of 13 and 19 years old.
Emotional: It could be constant criticism that lowers one’s self esteem, makes one feel depressed or not good enough. It could also be intimidation, manipulation, humiliation, or a refusal to be pleased.
Verbal: This form of abuse includes insults, put downs, criticism, threats, or demeaning comments.
Sexual: Causing another person to engage in an unwanted sexual act by force or threat. This also includes pressure and coercion.
The key part of that definition is power and control. People who abuse often have a lot of excuses they use for why they behave in an abusive manner. They might say things like “You just make me so angry,” “If you loved me, you’d do this,” “I just love you so much I can’t control myself,” or “It was just because I was drinking and I lost control.” You might notice a common theme in these excuses. None of them are taking responsibility. Abusers often try to manipulate their victims into thinking the abuse was their fault or they deserved it. It’s never the victim’s fault. It is always about power and control.
To look out for the warning signs of teen dating violence, the most important thing to notice is controlling behaviors. An abuser might tell his/her victim what to wear, what to eat, what to do, or who he/she can talk to or be friends with. An abuser will often try to isolate the victim from friends or family because these are influences that can take away some of their power. An abuser will also try to make a victim feel inferior. If someone feels like they are nothing and they are not good enough, they are a lot easier to control and keep under control.
Anyone can be a victim. Teen dating violence happens to people of all races, genders, socioeconomic statuses, sexual orientations, backgrounds, etc. If you are experiencing teen dating violence, please call us today at (860)763-4542. We can help.