It has been reported that 1 in 11 high school students are being physically hurt or abused by a date or boyfriend.
But how can you tell if you are being abused?
What Is Abuse?
Abuse can take on several forms. There’s physical abuse. There’s emotional and verbal abuse. And lastly, there’s sexual abuse.
People sometimes mistake abuse for intense feelings of caring or concern. A common scenario is a very jealous and possessive partner who wants to know what his/her girlfriend or boyfriend is doing all the time.
It can be flattering at first, but then this jealousy and possessiveness gets out of control that soon this jealous partner controls the how his/her boyfriend/girlfriend talks, acts, who he/she sees. And if the boyfriend/girlfriend does something this jealous partner doesn’t like, then the abuse comes.
The jealous and possessive partner may start hitting, slapping, kicking or do just about any form of physical abuse.
He/she may also resort to playing psychological wars, bullying, threatening, humiliating, intimidation and betrayal. These forms of abuse are just as hurtful as physical abuse, but are more difficult to recognize because they do not leave visible scars. Lastly, there’s sexual abuse. The common scenario here is "if you love me, you would…" And this is never right.
Signs of and abusive relationship
To get out of an abusive relationship before it goes any further, you have to be wary of the signs.
Your partner constantly gets jealous or angry when you want to spend time with your friends.
When you’re not with him/her, he/she demands to know where you are all the time.
He/she controls you (or different aspects of your life) such as how you dress, talk, act and who you hang out with.
Your partner humiliates you often, or puts you down to make you feel unworthy, but says "I love you".
He/she bends the truth to make you feel that you are the one to blame for his/her actions.
Your partner threatens to harm you or him/herself if you decide to break up with him/her.
He/she harms you physically in whatever way, slapping, punching, kicking, pushing grabbing, etc.
Your partner also makes you uncomfortable with unwanted sexual advances.
Signs of and abusive relationship on a friend
If you suspect your friend is being abused, here are signs to watch out for:
Your friend has unexplained bruises, broken bones, sprains and marks.
He/she is overly guilty, or is ashamed for no obvious reason.
Your friend is withdrawn from friends and family. He/she also keeps secrets from these people.
He/she has also stopped going to school functions or other social events often with lame excuses.
To get out of an abusive relationship you must first realize that you have the right to be treated with respect. That means you are not something that can just be physically or emotionally hurt or harmed by anybody.
Excessive jealousy, over protectiveness and controlling behavior are not signs of love and affection. Love involves respect and trust. Respect and trust means not being constantly asked where you are, who you with are and what you are doing. And it also means not worrying about the relationship ending.
The first thing you must do is to make sure you’re safe. Confide in a trusted adult. If your boyfriend/girlfriend has physically attacked you or sexually assaulted you, do not wait to go to call the police or to get medical help. Assault and rape is illegal, even if it’s by someone you are dating.
Avoid the tendency to isolate yourself from your family and friends. A person who has experienced or is experiencing abuse may feel trapped. They may feel like they have no one to turn to, might be embarrassed to talk to a trusted friend or relative about what you’re going through.
But this is not the time to alienate people who care for you because this is when you need their support most. People around you, not just your family and friends, but also your counselors, teachers coaches – they all want to help you. Allow them to do so.
You don’t have to be alone to deal with the problem. Friends and family can help you break away. Know that asking for help doesn’t mean you are weak. It only shows you care enough about yourself, and are brave enough to stand up for yourself.
Helping your friend
Encourage your friend to do the aforementioned steps. Your friend needs your patience, love and understanding. Most importantly, your friend needs you to listen without judging. Let your friend know that you are offering your full support.
Where to get help
It takes an entire community’s involvement to end teen relationship violence. Your local phone book will list crisis centers, teen help lines, abuse hotlines, police hotlines, etc. These organizations have professionally trained staff to help you. Plus, you have your religious leaders, schools nurses, counselors, teachers, doctors and other health professionals.
Afterwards, you can join a school group or community group as an advocate to help prevent future dating and relationship abuse.