Dating violence occurs when one person gains power and control in the relationship by verbal, emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse.
1 in 10 teens are affected.
Characteristics of an abusive dating relationship are: jealousy,possessiveness and over-exaggerated attention.
1/3 of young adults between 16 and 24 have reported being involved in at least one abusive dating relationship. Most women in long-term abusive relationships say that there were signs and symptoms of abusive behaviour even while they were dating their partner.
Date rape accounts for 60% of all rapes.
95% of all people who are the victims in an abusive relationship are women.
Signs of an Abusive Dating Relationship
If you answer "yes" to two or more of the following questions, your teenager may be in an abusive dating relationship:
-Does your teenager come home with unexplained injuries?
-Do you see signs that your teen is afraid of their partner?
-Does the partner check up on your teenager?
-Does the partner lash out, call names or talk cruelly to or about your teen?
-Does your teen seem to be giving up things that once seemed important?
-Has your teen lost interest in school, friends, time with family, activities?
-Does your teen apologize for the partner's behaviour to you and others?
-Have you seen the partner be abusive or display aggressive behaviours toward other people, property and/or pets?
-Has your teen's appearance and/or behaviour changed?
What a Parent Can Do
-Become informed about the dynamics of dating violence
-Ask your teen about the relationship
-Don't blame them; avoid saying "I told you so"
-Support them - listen and let them talk
-Let them make choices and don't pressure them to do what you want
-Seek professional help for you and your teen
Over the longer term, proactive parenting can teach healthy relationships and prevent dating violence.
-talk with your teens about the issues involved in teen dating before they get into a serious relationship and help them develop strategies to stay safe
-teach your teen to be assertive and exercise his/her own rights while respecting those of others
-role model conflict resolution at home: listening, compromise, and problem-solving are all powerful skills
-challenge the images and attitudes in the media that create a tolerance for violence in intimate relationships
-help your teen identify and define healthy relationships
Signs of an Unhealthy Dating Relationship for Teens
Does your new boyfriend/girlfriend show:
1) Exaggerated attention: 'around the clock" charming attention, frequent calls, lavish gifts, tries to impress your friends, family
2)Possessiveness: wants all of your attention and time
3)Jealousy:questions your relationships with others, accuses you of flirting or dressing to get attention, unreasonable suspicion of your movements
4)Abusive Talk Aimed at You: discounting your opinions, mocking you, unpredictable moods, stops complimenting you, doesn't apologize when appropriate. These changes can be subtle; pay attention to your own feelings and reactions.
5)Criticism of Others: starts by criticism of small things in others to make you doubt yourself and fear s/he will start to criticize you. This can make it easier to control you.
6)Competing with You for Attention from Other People: calls attention to self or asks for a compliment if you are paid one by someone, gets competitive - his/her needs some first.
Reactions to an Abusive Relationship
Early in the relationship you may find yourself:
-overexplaining where you have been, why you do what you do, who you were with. All of this can chip away at your sense of self.
-apologizing, even for things you haven't done
-making efforts to please him/her to the point where you feel like you are giving up yourself. Healthy relationships involve some mutual interests and some separate interests each partner supports.
-changing yourself to try to fit his/her version of "perfect" and losing who you really are in the process
-misinterpreting his possessiveness and jealousy as love and caring
Later you may start to recognize the abuse:
-recognize that you are not to blame and can't make the behaviour stop
-consider ending the relationship
-recognize that no one has the right to control you
-consider talking to a parent or other adult about what is happening
What are the Characteristics of a Healthy Relationship?
A healthy relationship should have all of these characteristics. Even missing a few should make you ask how safe and satisfying your relationship is.
-laughter and fun
What if You Think You Might be Abusive?
Signs that you are abusive include:
- excessive jealousy of your partner
- you are critical of your partner
- you like to scare your partner through reckless actions
- you become very angry about trivial things
- you criticize his/her friends and/or family and ask him/her to stop seeing them
- you feel depressed but won't talk about your feelings
- you come from an abusive home
- you become angry or violent when you use drugs or alcohol
- you have traditional ideas about male and female roles
- you make threats toward your partner, his/her family or friends, his/her pets, or you threaten to hurt yourself
- you have hurt your partner - hit, pushed,kicked,sexally assaulted or threatened
Actions you can take:
- recognize the early warning signs
- be direct about what you want and don't expect people to read minds
- accept "no" as a final answer if that's what your partner says
- know that drugs and alcohol can weaken your self-control and impair your judgment but they do not cause your behaviour
- take responsibility for your own behaviour; your partner does not "cause" your behaviour and your violence will increase if you don't take action to stop it
- get out of a tense, potentially explosive situation to give yourself time to cool down
- realize that apologizing afterward does not solve the problem
- know that sexual assualt, physical violence and threats of physical violence are crimes and you could face fines or jail time
- talk to someone you trust and seek a counsellor through Southwest Crisis Services, Mental Health or other community agencies - violence can be "unlearned"