Learning how to do relationships is a normal part of teen life, but unfortunately dating violence is way too common. One in 10 high school students have been physically abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend, and 1 in 3 teens have been abused physically, sexually, or emotionally by their partner. (Loveisrespect)
It's important to recognize characteristics of abusive relationships to keep yourself (or someone you know) safe. Here are some behaviors to look out for:
Name calling. Does your partner say ugly things about you and mask it as a joke or tell you they didn't mean it? Calling you a hoe is not respectful; it doesn't matter how commonly the term is used.
Criticizing. Does your partner make you feel insecure by pointing out your imperfections as a way of "helping" you? If they are letting you know you have a piece of pepper between your teeth, they might really be helping you out. But if they are pointing out your pimples or criticizing your clothes, they may be chipping away your confidence.
Blaming and Accusing. Does our partner accuse you of trying to attract other people with your clothing or behavior? Or do they blame you each time there is a problem in your relationship?
Controlling and Possessive. Does your partner get angry with you for not replying to text messages right away? Do they want to know where you are at all times, constantly checking in on you with multiple text messages? Your time belongs to you, and it is okay to do things away from and without your partner.
Jealousy and Isolation. Does your partner act threatened when you talk to other people? Do they confront others they fear may be attracted to you? Does your partner discourage you from spending time with friends and/or family? They may say they want you all for them self because they love you, but keeping you from others you care about (and who care about you) is not love.
Sexual Coercion. Is your partner inconsiderate of your feelings regarding physical intimacy? Are are they too rough; do they ask for it to soon; or do they disregard your messages that your are not ready for it? Do they pressure you to send them sexual pictures of yourself? It's important for you to know the state laws regarding sexual assault of minors and possession and distribution of child pornography. These laws are put in place to help protect you.
Threatening. Has your partner verbally threatened to harm you, someone you love, or even them self if you do not do what they want?
Physical aggression. Has your partner thrown or hit objects or destroyed property out of anger?
Physical abuse. Has your partner hit, shoved, choked, or physically harmed you in any way?
If you said yes to any of the above, your relationship is not healthy, and could be very dangerous. Maybe your partner doesn't do these things all of the time. They might be very sweet and respectful at times, making you feel like the center of the world. If they do some of the things listed above, they might apologize, beg for forgiveness, and promise to not do it again - this is a very common phase in the cycle of abuse. Maybe they haven't done these things to you, but you know they have done them to other people. If so, this is definitely a cause for concern. It will be important to talk to an adult you trust to get guidance to keep you safe before things get worse. You can also contact Loveisrespect, a project of the National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-866-331-9474, chat at loveisrespect.org or text “loveis” to 22522, any time, 24/7/365.
Love is a behavior, not just a feeling.You have a right to be safe and respected in your relationship. No one deserves any less that that. If you know someone who might be struggling with an abusive relationship, please share this information with them.