Saturday, February 11, 2012

About Teen Dating Violence


Domestic violence is not a problem just for adults. Teens experience domestic violence in their relationships, too. In fact, domestic violence is very common in teen dating relationships. Here are some important facts:

Unhealthy relationship behaviors commonly begin early and lead to a lifetime of abuse.

Every student, parent and teacher needs to be aware of the prevalence of teen dating violence in the US. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that one in eleven adolescents is a victim of physical dating violence.

The following ten facts are from Choose Respect's "Get the Facts: Dating Abuse Statistics" and "About Choose Respect: Dating Abuse Fact Sheet":

1. Each year approximately one in four adolescents reports verbal, physical, emotional or sexual abuse.

2. Approximately one in five adolescents reports being a victim of emotional abuse.

3. Approximately one in five high school girls has been physically or sexually abused by a dating partner.

4. Dating violence among their peers is reported by 54% of high school students.

5. One in three teens report knowing a friend or peer who has been physically hurt by his or her partner through violent actions which included hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, and/or choking.

6. Eighty percent of teens believe verbal abuse is a serious issue for their age group.

7. Nearly 80% of girls who have been victims of physical abuse in their dating relationships continue to date the abuser.

8. Nearly 20% of teen girls who have been in a relationship said that their boyfriend had threatened violence or self-harm in the event of a break-up.

9. Nearly 70% of young women who have been raped knew their rapist; the perpetrator was or had been a boyfriend, friend, or casual acquaintance.

10. The majority of teen dating abuse occurs in the home of one of the partners.

11. 1 in 4 teenage girls who have been in relationships reveal they have been pressured to perform oral sex or engage in intercourse.

Warning Signs a Teen is Being Abused

• Falling or failing grades;

• Increased instances of indecision, stops giving her own opinion;

• Changes in mood or personality;

• Use of drugs/alcohol, not just experimentation;

• Emotional outburst , not just mood swings;

• Depression;

• Will become isolated, insist on more privacy;

• Physical signs of injury, cuts, bruises, etc.;

• Makes excuses for the abusers behavior;

• Begins to put herself/himself down.

Although parents may not see many of these, here are the signs concerning the abuser:

• Is extremely jealous, hypersensitive and controlling;

• Verbally abusive and threatens violence;

• Has unpredictable mood swings, with instances of explosive anger;

• Uses drugs and alcohol, not just experimentation;

• Isolates their partner from friends and family;

• Uses force during an argument, physical and emotional;

• Believes in rigid sex roles and women are a possession;

• Blames others for his problems or feelings;

• Has a history of abusive relationships.

Keep your eyes and ears open when your teen is dating. Stay involved and most importantly be there when your teen wants to talk. These things will help you see the signs of dating violence, should you need to.

What can I do?

If you or someone you know is experiencing teen dating violence, consider these steps:

• Learn about dating and domestic violence and what the laws in your state say about teen victims of domestic violence.

• Share information you learn with your peers.

• Support your friends and family members to stay safe in their relationships.

• Speak out in your community to end teen dating violence.

• Keep your eyes and ears open when your teen is dating. Stay involved and most importantly be there when your teen wants to talk. These things will help you see the signs of dating violence, should you need to.

Teen Dating Bill of Rights

I have the right:

To always be treated with respect – In a respectful relationship, you should be treated as an equal.

To be in a healthy relationship – A healthy relationship is not controlling, manipulative, or jealous. A healthy relationship involves honesty, trust, and communication.

To not be hurt physically or emotionally – You should feel safe in your relationship at all times.

Abuse is never deserved and is never your fault – Conflicts should be resolved in a peaceful and rational way.

To refuse sex or affection at anytime – A healthy relationship involves making consensual sexual decisions.

You have the right to not have sex – Even if you have had sex before, you have the right to refuse sex for any reason.

To have friends and activities apart from my boyfriend or girlfriend – Spending time by yourself, with male or female friends, or with family is normal and healthy.

To end a relationship – You should not be harassed, threatened, or made to feel guilty for ending an unhealthy or healthy relationship. You have the right to end a relationship for any reason you choose.

I pledge to:

Always treat my boyfriend or girlfriend with respect.

Never hurt my boyfriend or girlfriend physically, verbally, or emotionally.

Respect my girlfriend’s or boyfriend’s decisions concerning sex and affection.

Not be controlling or manipulative in my relationship.

Accept responsibility for myself and my actions.

Copyright © 2007-2010 Love is respect – National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline

For more information on Teen Dating Violence Awareness and how you can get involved, please visit:

AVA-CASA has trained community advocates available 24/7/365, all services are confidential. All advocates are mandatory reporters and required by law to report any knowledge or reasonable cause that a minor is being abused or neglected.

For more information or for victim’s services, please contact AVA-CASA at P.O. Box 1338, Wmca, or 304-7007 or 623-2328. E-Mail Address Website:

Surviving Dating Violence: A Survivor Shares Her Story

I didn't have a strong father figure at home growing up. He was around, so to say, but worked constantly. As I became of dating age, I found myself drawn to guys that were much older than my parents would have liked. I hung on to my boyfriend's every word and did my best to appease him. I also became responsible for his emotions, and his lack of control over them. It wasn’t until later, too late, that I realized I was the beginnings of an abusive relationship. I had failed to recognize all the warning signs.

My friends became distant; my family agitated. I was confused. I couldn't seem to make him happy anymore. In fact, I was always the cause of his discontent. He would yell at me, blame me for his woes, and I would take it all to heart.

I'd spend hours contemplating the ways I could not disappoint, anger or upset him. I could not get through an entire day without the dirty look, the mean names, and that sinking feeling that I was a failing individual because I couldn't make my boyfriend any happier with me, or with life.

After a couple months of this nonsense, my boasting teenage ego didn't even cast a shadow anymore. I was a rotten person. Obviously. It was so apparent; my boyfriend could plainly see it. With the crumbled self-esteem, I felt unworthy to be dated by anybody. How lucky I was to have such a great guy that loved me despite my horrible short comings! I craved his approval. I needed his approval. I had none left in me for myself.

It became hard to look at myself in the mirror. I was such a disappointment to my boyfriend. We got into arguments. I believed the names he called me were appropriate. He never said anything good about me anymore. He rarely said anything nice to me either. I permitted his influence over me to become so strong I found myself unable to think kind things about myself.

I dropped my morals, desperate for anything to make my boyfriend happy with me again. When that didn't work, my pitiful esteem plummeted farther, because I had compromised myself.

I noticed changes in him, too. His anger was coming more frequently and escalating. He began beating the family pets just for walking into the wrong room. My feelings weren't the only ones I saw getting run over anymore.

I'd laid the groundwork for dating, and not just as a teenager. These were things I didn't realize would follow me into the adult world. I also didn't know how challenging it would be to break away from the behaviors I'd allowed to become acceptable.

The dating habits formed in the teenage years can leave deep grooves which can be difficult to leave behind as you propel into adulthood. I know now I was in an abusive relationship. It’s easy to look back on now and see all the warning signs, but I hadn’t known the facts or warning signs prior to these experiences.

There are many warning signs of an abusive personality, but for myself personally, a few seem to resurface and I can now identify them with more ease.

• Jealousy – Constant phone calls, dropping by all the time “just to say hi”

• Controlling – I had to ask permission to even go grocery shopping

• Isolation – From my friends and family

• Blaming others for his problems and mistakes

• Making everyone else responsible for his/her feelings

• Cruelty to animals – From here it is a small step to people

• Verbal abuse – Just as scarring as physical abuse

• Unrealistic expectations – I was expected to be the perfect mate and meet his every need

There is NO EXCUSE for anybody to treat you in a manner you find displeasing. Any type of abuse in a relationship is NOT love and should NOT be tolerated! If you do find yourself in a position of abuse, there are people to help you leave the situation. AVA has trained community advocates to assist with crisis intervention, survivor and secondary survivor advocacy, and numerous resources and referrals. There are many statewide and national organizations to help too. Don’t wait until it’s too late!

This column is not is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical or psychological advice or treatment.