Facts according to the National Institute of Justice……
1: One in Ten teens admits to being a victim of physical dating violence.
2: Teen dating abuse generally takes place in one of the partners’ homes.
3: One in Four teens report verbal, physical, sexual or emotional abuse each year.
A friend I went to high school with began dating her, now, ex-boyfriend, in her sophomore year. He was her first “real” boyfriend and she seemed to fall head over heels for him. They dated up until her senior year. At the start of the years, things seemed great ,but as months went by, manipulation and control set in. The manipulation made her a different person. She began doings things she would not normally do and isolating herself from her friends in order to be with him.
As much as she would do for him, he never went out of his way to do anything for her. He often ignored her phone calls, blew her off constantly, and would disappear for a few days without contact to anyone, including his family.
The junior year homecoming dance came and she was so excited to go with him. She bought a brand new dress, got her hair and nails done, and spent endless time getting ready. This perfect night that she envisioned turned out to be the polar opposite.
He arrived at her home for pictures, but what she didn’t know was that there was a bottle of alcohol waiting in the car. On the way to the dance he couldn’t keep his hands off of that bottle. By the end of the dance, he had shoved her multiple times and pinned her up against a wall. It happened once, she forgave, and of course, it happened again.
February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. It is important that not only teenagers, but everyone, understands the significant impact that teen dating violence has on the victim and their family and friends.
What is Teen Dating Violence?
Dating violence does not only consist of being physically harmed. It can be verbal, mental, physical, or sexual abuse and they all have an incredible impact on the victim. The effects on the victim can vary, ranging from missing a couple of classes, to the most extreme, suicide.
According to www.teendvmonth.org there are 10 Warning Signs of Abuse that are most common:
· Checking your cell phone or email without permission
· Constantly putting you down
· Extreme jealousy or insecurity
· Explosive temper
· Isolating you from family or friends
· Making false accusations
· Mood swings
· Physically hurting you in any way
· Telling you what to do
Teen Dating Violence vs. Adult Domestic Violence
There is a difference between teen dating violence and adult domestic violence. Teens are often more vulnerable and less experienced with relationships. If a young teen is involved in a violent relationship initially, they tend to believe that it is the way a relationship should be and become more inclined to isolate themselves. With isolation brings lack of ability to create new relationships among both genders and a fear of expressing feelings and emotions. Isolation affects a victim’s ability to succeed to the best of their ability in school or work. These are just the short term effects of teen dating violence.
Long term effects of dating violence takes a toll on teens. The short term feelings of isolation and abuse can generate the long term problems that can stay with the victim for life such as depression, drug or alcohol abuse, eating disorders, and medical problems.
The most important thing for teens to know is they should never feel as if they are responsible for the abuse.
Fortunately, my friend that I went to high school with was able to get out of that “head over heels” relationship that she was in. She moved away, went to college, and is graduating in just a few short months with Dean’s List grades, fantastic experiences, and someone who treats her as she deserves to be treated.
That “friend” was me.