You might be surprised to know 1 in 3 teens will be in an abusive relationship (Liz Claiborne Inc & The Family fund). 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, punching, kicking, etc. However, physical abuse is just one of many types of abuse, and some abusive relationships don’t have physical violence.
Females between the age of 16 to 24 are roughly 3 times more likely than the rest of the population to be abused by an intimate partner.
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 age 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.
Physical: Slapping, punching, kicking, shoving, etc.
Stalking: Monitoring your partner’s social media, reading their personal/private messages, and monitoring their whereabouts, or demanding to know where they are/who they’re with at all times
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
- It was just because I was drinking
- I lost control
You might notice a common theme in these excuses. None of them are taking responsibility. Abusers often try to manipulate their partner 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.
Warning - Red Flags
Constant Checking In
Feeling Trapped/ Suffocated
Not Liking Who You Are With Them
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
- who they can talk to or be their friends
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, color, religion, sex, national origin, physical ability, gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation. If you are experiencing teen dating violence, please call us today. We are here to help. 860.763.4542
Ways To Help A Friend
Here are some examples of how you can help a friend:
- Point out concerning behaviors but focus on the behavior and not the person.
- Give options and choices.
- Let them know you are there for them.
- Talk to an adult.
- Be careful not to spread rumors or gossip.
- Don’t blame your friend. Let them know it’s not their fault.
The relationship moves at a speed that feels enjoyable for each person. It’s normal to want to spend a lot of time with someone when you first meet them, but it’s important that you’re both on the same page with how the relationship is moving. In a healthy relationship, you’re not rushed or pressured in a way that makes you feel overwhelmed.
How to Set a Comfortable Pace:
- Handling Rejection Well
Confidence that your partner won’t do anything to intentionally hurt you or ruin the relationship. In a healthy relationship, trust comes easily, and you don’t have to question the other person’s intentions or whether they have your back. They respect your privacy and would never put you through a “test” to prove your loyalty.
To Build Trust:
-Find Someone Trustworthy
-Talk about Boundaries and Follow Through
-Be Open (Address feelings and concerns)
-Be Dependable & Reliable
Make a Choice to:
If Breaks in Trust Happen:
-Know Your Limits
-Expect Action Steps
You can be truthful and candid without fearing how the other person will respond. In a healthy relationship, you should feel like you can share the full truth about your life and feelings with each other – you will never have to hide things. They may not like what you have to say but will respond to disappointing news in a considerate way.
It’s okay to disagree about things. Healthy even.
-Respect the other person’s opinions
-Listen and try to see their side
You have space to be yourself outside of the relationship. The other person should be supportive of your hobbies and your relationships with other friends, family, and coworkers. The other person does not need to know or be involved in every part of your life. Having independence means being free to do you and giving your partner that same freedom.
You value one another’s beliefs and opinions and love one another for who you are as a person. You feel comfortable setting boundaries and are confident that the other person will respect those boundaries. They cheer for you when you achieve something, support your hard work and dreams, and appreciate you.
The relationship feels balanced, and everyone puts the same effort into the success of the relationship. You don’t let one person’s preferences and opinions dominate, and instead, you hear each other out and make compromises when you don’t want the same thing. You feel like your needs, wishes and interests are just as important as the other person’s. Sometimes you might put in more (money, time, emotional support) than your partner, and vice versa, but the outcome always feels equitable and even.
You are caring and empathetic to one another and provide comfort and support. In a healthy relationship, the other person will do things that they know will make you happy. Kindness should be a two-way street; it’s given and returned in your relationship. You show compassion for the other person and the things they care about.
Owning your actions and words. You avoid placing blame and can admit when you make a mistake. You genuinely apologize when you’ve done something wrong and continually try to make positive changes to better the relationship. You can take ownership for the impact your words or behavior had, even if it wasn’t your intention.
Openly and respectfully discussing issues and confronting disagreements non-judgmentally. Conflict is a normal and expected part of any relationship. Everyone has disagreements, and that’s OK! Healthy conflict is recognizing the root issue and addressing it respectfully before it escalates into something bigger. No one should belittle or yell during an argument.
Healthy conflict happens when you:
- Find the right time
- Talk face to face
- Stay calm – take a break if you need to
- Listen to the other person
- Express yourself clearly
- Focus on the problem at hand
You enjoy spending time together and you bring out the best in each other. A healthy relationship should feel easy and make you happy. You can let loose, laugh together, and be yourselves — the relationship doesn’t bring your mood down but cheers you up. No relationship is fun 100% of the time, but the good times should outweigh the bad.