I often get emails from teenagers, both boys and girls, asking questions about domestic violence pertaining to their relationships with boyfriends and girlfriends or people they are casually dating. Not only do they want to know if certain behaviors are considered abuse but they are in search of resources because they do not feel comfortable approaching their parents or family members with their crisis. I of course encourage these teens to please go to their parent or another family member they can talk to before turning to strangers for help.
If you are a teen reading this, please know that you do not deserve to be hit or called names when someone is mad at you. Teen dating violence occurs more then we adults know. We need to know what is going on in your lives, we want to know! You may be asking yourself what is considered abuse. Let’s look at a few examples.
Physical abuse is usually pretty obvious.
• Hitting, pushing, shoving, smacking, pinching, pulling hair, etc. This is done when someone is mad at you or upset. Sometimes we may playful push or hit our boyfriend or girlfriend on the arm. If you hit someone while you are angry, it is abuse or can lead to abuse.
• You may not touch the person but if you say, “God, I could smack you right now,” or any other similar threat repeatedly is abuse when you are angry.
Emotional or verbal abuse is just as bad as the physical. The words someone says to usually stick around longer. Emotional and verbal abuse includes:
• Playing “mind games” with your boyfriend or girlfriend is abuse. You know the games! “I will leave you for so and so if you don’t do this.” Or “Since you didn’t do this, I am going to go here because I feel like it.” There are many examples I could use.
• Making you feel crazy or stupid, or dumb with their words is also emotional abuse.
• Name calling is also abuse even if it is meant in a playful way. If the words they are calling you hurt you, it is abuse. Speak up and tell them to stop.
Sexual abuse is also high amount teens. You are unsure about appropriate sexual behavior or you think having sex with your boyfriend or girlfriend will make them keep dating you. Sexual abuse includes:
• Making you do things you do not want to do. Or guilting you into having sex with them. This means they say something like “If you loved me, you would have sex with me.” Or “You know we are going to be together forever, so we should have sex to prove our love to each other.” If they love you and respect you, they will wait until you are ready!
• Inappropriate touching is also sexual abuse. If you don’t want to be touched, say something, get away from them.
• Refusing to have safe sex with you can be considered abuse as well.
• Making you feel bad sexually in anyway is abuse.
Another form of abuse that can fall under all 3 of these categories that I hear about a lot from teens, both boys and girls, is that their boyfriend/girlfriend is controlling. By this I mean the boyfriend/girlfriends tells you who you can have as friends, where you can go with your friends, where you can go with or without them, even to the extreme of what you can eat or what you can wear.
1 in 3 high school students have experienced something from the above in at least 1 relationship they have had or will experience it. And more then likely it will get worse and worse if you do not seek help or break up with the person. But where can you turn for help? We will explore this in my next article. To be notified when it is posted, please join my newsletter. If you have any questions or comments, don’t hesitate to email me!