Category Archives: Dating

Dating Abuse: Get Help & Get Out

It usually starts out fine… You meet somebody. After spending some time with them, you decide you really like them. They’re nice, funny, they make you feel good. They treat you right. You start dating them and you fall in love. But, sometimes, after you REALLY get to know somebody, that will all change and stuff will start happening that you never thought would happen to you.

Dating abuse happens a lot more in teen relationships than a lot of people realize. In fact, over 1.5 million high school students experience physical violence from someone they’re dating every year. Approximately 1 in 3 teens are victims of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.

What exactly is dating abuse?

Here are the different types of abuse:

  1. Physical abuse is when your significant other hurts you physically in any way. It could be punching, hitting, slapping, grabbing, pushing, shoving, kicking, choking. It could even be holding you down or not letting you get away. Those kinds of things are NEVER okay.
  2. Sexual abuse is when your partner makes you do things sexually that you don’t want to do. It could be that they want to make out and fool around, you say no, and they do it anyway. It could be unwanted touching. It could even be rape. 
  3. Emotional abuse is when they make you feel bad about yourself, make you feel like you’re doing something wrong, try to control you, embarrass you in front of others.
  4. Verbal abuse is when they say things to you that are negative and hurtful. For example, telling you you’re fat and ugly, you’re stupid, they don’t know why they’re even with you,you can’t do anything right, calling you names, etc.

People abuse others because of THEIR OWN ISSUES… it has nothing to do with the victims. They just feel like they need somebody to lash out at to fix their problems with themselves. They like having control over someone, and they like making someone else feel worthless because THEY have self-esteem issues of their own. It could also be that they grew up seeing an abusive relationship, so they think it’s normal.  Or maybe they have anger issues, they hang with the wrong crowd, they’re on drugs and drink alcohol, they have a history of being aggressive and bullying other people. Whatever it is, it isn’t YOUR fault that they’re doing that to you. There are no excuses. You have done NOTHING to deserve that.

Teens who are victims of dating abuse are more likely to do bad in school, drink alcohol, do drugs, attempt suicide, get in physical fights with others, and carry violence into their future relationships.

As a teenager who is still developing emotionally, your relationships affect you tremendously. A really good, healthy relationship can do wonders for your self-esteem and emotional/mental development. At the same time, a bad, unhealthy relationship can cause some terrible short term and long term negative effects that you will carry with you.

People who are victims of abuse often continue to stay in the relationship and pretend like nothing is wrong. It’s usually because they’re embarrassed to admit that something like that is happening to them. Or sometimes, again, if they’ve grown up seeing an abusive relationship, they might even think it’s normal. Or they could be blind to it because they really are in love with their abuser.

If you think one of your friends is in an unhealthy relationship, talk to them about it. Tell them about some of the signs you’ve seen based on the way their partner treats them. If they’re in denial about it, tell an adult what’s going on and get help. The longer you wait, the worse it could get.

If YOU are in an abusive relationship, don’t be ashamed. It isn’t your fault! It really has nothing to do with you. Your partner has issues, and they are not your problem… Don’t try to fix them, because it won’t work. Get out ASAP. Let the people around you know what’s been happening so they can support and protect you if your partner gets angry when you break things off. 

There are several hotlines you can call if you’re in an abusive relationship and need help. These people are available 24/7 to give you tips, advice, point you in the direction of services and help, or just when you need someone to talk to. 

  • Love Is Respect: you can call them at 1-866-331-9474, text “loveis” to 22522, or chat online at loveisrespect.org.
  • RAINN (Rape, Abuse, & Incest National Network): call them at 1-800-656-HOPE or chat online at rainn.org
  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: call them at 1-800-799-SAFE, or chat online at thehotline.org

Dating is supposed to be FUN! Your significant other is supposed to make you happy, make you feel special and loved, and take care of you. Someone who truly cares about you will do everything in their power to make you happy. Don’t settle for anything less than that. 

 

Teen Hookup Culture

Gone are the days when teenage boys ask teenage girls out on dates. Gone are the days when boys go pick girls up at their house, with flowers in hand, meet their parents, take them to dinner and a movie, and then take them back home. Nope, that doesn’t happen anymore. Now the teen “dating scene” is consisted of making out at parties, and maybe becoming boyfriend/girlfriend later; or maybe never seeing each other again.

Sure, I suppose there are still some gentlemen out there who still take girls on dates. But unfortunately, “hooking up” is becoming the norm among young people. Hooking up isn’t by any means a new phenomenon, people have been doing it for ages. But this is the first time that hooking up has been the norm instead of dating.

“Hooking up” refers to anything from kissing to sex, and everything in between. It is called hooking up when the two participants aren’t in a relationship with each other. It is essentially just casual sex, or casual whatever, with someone you aren’t committed to. Some other related terms are “messing around,” and “friends with benefits.”

About two-thirds of teenagers today say at least one of their friends has hooked up with someone, and about 40% of them say they had sex while hooking up. Studies show that kids as young as 12 years old are hooking up.

Why is this the norm now?

  • Kids have busier, less attentive parents who don’t know what they’re watching or listening to, or where they are or who they’re hanging out with.
  • Kids see constant displays of casual sex on TV, in movies, and in songs.
  • Kids have access to the internet and texting, which allows them to say things to people that they probably wouldn’t say in person.
  • With everything they see in the media, kids are getting the message that this is just what people do.

So, why is hooking up a bad thing? Isn’t it okay to have fun while you’re young? Uh, well, for one thing, hooking up with several people you hardly know could result in you getting a sexually transmitted disease. For another thing, many teens who hook up get overwhelmed with unexpected emotions, whether they develop strong feelings for the person they hooked up with and that person doesn’t feel the same way, or they feel guilty and dirty after what they did. Teens who have casual sexual relationships are also much more likely to experience stress and depression than teens who are in committed relationships. So, sure, it’ll be fun in the moment (maybe)… but then you’ll have to deal with the consequences later.

Don’t hook up just because you feel like everyone is doing it. Really, have some respect for yourself. Don’t you want to experience that kind of intimacy and romance with someone you’re actually close with, someone who actually cares about you? Take care of  your body and your heart. Don’t give them to anybody who comes along.

Verbal Abuse: You Don’t Deserve It

When people think of abusive relationships, they usually think of the more obvious kind of abuse… they think of one person hitting the other, causing them to get a black eye and/or have bruises all over their body. Yes, physical abuse is terrible, and it unfortunately it happens a lot. But it isn’t the only type of abuse out there.

No matter who it is, nobody should ever do any of the following to you or anyone else:

  • call you names
  • put you down
  • yell/scream at you
  • embarrass you in public/in front of friends
  • keep you from seeing/talking to your family and friends
  • tell you what to do/wear
  • blame you for anything they do
  • stalk you
  • threaten you
  • start rumors about you
  • make you feel guilty

Whether it’s your boyfriend/girlfriend, parent, family member, friend, or anyone else, if they are continually doing any of these things to you, it’s verbal abuse. It’s one thing when someone says something mean once or twice, apologizes, and then stops doing it… but when they do it several times, apologize, do it again, apologize again, do it again, and it turns into a never ending cycle… then it’s a serious problem.

Although verbal abuse doesn’t cause you to get a swollen eye or bruises on your body, it causes emotional pain and scarring. When someone treats you so poorly, it gets to you and makes you feel like crap. It can completely destroy your self-esteem and confidence in yourself and your abilities. It can cause you to become depressed, a drug addict or alcoholic, sexually promiscuous, or even physically violent. When people are verbally abused during childhood and/or adolescence, they often carry those emotions into adulthood and form trust issues with people they have a relationship with. Victims of verbal abuse usually isolate themselves from other people to at least some extent.

The bottom line is that abuse is never justified. That goes for any type of abuse. It doesn’t matter what you did, what you said, how you dress, who you hung out with… it is never okay for anybody to treat somebody like that. Never blame yourself. If your significant other, parent, or whoever it is has a problem with anything you’re doing, they can choose to talk to you about it in mature, healthy way. No matter what the situation is, it is their choice to deal with it in such an inappropriate way and that is not your fault. You do not deserve it.

If you think you are being verbally abused, or if you have a friend who is, here’s what you can do:

  • Let the abuser know how hurtful their words are. Just try talking to them. Make sure they know how everything they say affects you. Hopefully they will actually listen to you and take your feelings into consideration. Sometimes people will apologize and stop, but sometimes they will deny it: if they say anything like ” you’re too sensitive,” “you’re exaggerating,” “that didn’t happen,” or “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” then just stop. They are trying to manipulate you and make you feel like it’s all your fault. Unfortunately, sometimes you can’t just talk to abusers… but you can at least try.
  • Surround yourself with a support system. Tell close family and friends what’s going on. They will reassure you that it’s not your fault, and that the things the abuser is saying about you aren’t true. They can help you restore your self-esteem and confidence in yourself. They could also potentially help you confront the abuser, and/or get help from someone at school, a counselor or therapist, or the authorities.
  • Stay calm and walk away. When somebody is yelling hateful things to you, of course it’s easy to get angry and talk smack back to them. But really, that’s what they want.. a reaction from you. Don’t give that to them. Don’t give them the power and satisfaction of knowing that they got to you. As hard as it may be, just leave. If the abuse is going on in your home, go stay with friend or relative for a while. Or you can even go for a walk or a run, or to a coffee shop. Just go somewhere where you can breath, relax, and maybe talk to somebody about it for a while.
  • Get help from a school counselor. Explain the situation to your counselor. They’ll know exactly what you should do. They can refer you to counseling, give advice, or contact authorities if there’s abuse going on at home. You don’t have to know how to figure this out on your own, so get help.
  • Don’t allow them to control how you feel. After a while of being told you’re stupid and worthless, or fat and ugly, or whatever else, naturally you’ll begin to feel that way. Don’t give anyone the power to make you feel negatively about yourself. You need to realize that they don’t REALLY even think those things about you… it isn’t even about you, it’s about them. There’s something else very wrong going on with THEM. Maybe they’re actually jealous of you in some way, or they feel bad about themselves so they want you to feel bad about yourself. Do not let them control you.

Again, nobody deserves any type of abuse… never, ever. Sometimes verbal abuse is a little harder to recognize, but if you’re in any type of relationship where you find yourself being put down, feeling threatened, not valued, and straight up crappy about yourself, especially if this is going on all the time… you need to get help. Don’t make excuses for the other person, just get help.

Sexual Abuse: No Means NO!

In the United States, 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 20 boys is a victim of sexual abuse at some point in their lives. Sexual abuse can be rape, inappropriate touching, the abuser showing the victim pornography, or doing anything else sexually that the victim isn’t comfortable with. When someone says “no,” that means NO and if the other person forces them to do it anyway, that’s sexual assault.

In most sexual abuse situations, the abuser is someone the victim knows well. Of course, that isn’t ALWAYS the case; but usually it is a boyfriend or girlfriend, a teacher or coach, even a good family friend or a friend’s parent. Sometimes sexual assault is a one-time thing, and sometimes it goes on for weeks, months, or years… in either case, it is NOT okay and shouldn’t be kept a secret.

People who are being sexually abused usually develop low self-esteem, a feeling of worthlessness, have an abnormal/distorted view of love and sex, become withdrawn and mistrustful of adults, and can sometimes even become suicidal. If one of your friends starts acting this way, you should ask them what’s going on.

If someone is trying to get you to do something you’re uncomfortable with, even if you’re dating them, you can ALWAYS say no. Even if you’ve already started doing it, it’s okay to change your mind… even if you’ve already done it before, whether it’s been once or several times, you can STILL say no. They might try to manipulate you into doing it by saying “If you really loved me, you’d do it,” or “We’ve done it before, so you might as well”… don’t listen to them. If they really loved YOU, they wouldn’t want to make you do anything you don’t want to do. If they do something to you, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. It doesn’t matter how you look, how you’re dressed, what you say, where you are, or who you’re with. It’s never your fault.

If you are sexually assaulted, here’s what you need to do:

  • Seek medical attention, preferably at the Emergency Room if you can. Make sure you go right away, don’t shower or change clothes first, so you don’t disturb any evidence that medical staff might be able to collect for the police. The medical staff can make sure you’re okay, and also do tests to see if you’re pregnant, if you were drugged, or if you got an STD. Have a friend or trusted adult go with you to make things easier.
  • If you want to report the assault, call the police.
  • Tell a friend or an adult so somebody knows what happened to you. They can help you figure out what to do, and find a safe place to stay if you need one.
  • If you don’t feel like you can tell anyone, call a local service provider that helps sexual abuse victims or a national hotline. Some national hotlines you can call are: The National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (1-800-656-4673), the National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474 and 1-866-331-8453, and the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).

If you find out that one of your friends is being sexually abused, or even if they won’t tell you but you think they are…

  • Talk to them about it. Ask them if anyone is hurting them or forcing them to do anything inappropriate. Listen patiently, and without judgment; let them know it’s not their fault, and offer your support and encouragement in getting help.
  • Try to get them to go to the hospital, offer to go with them.
  • Report the assault to an adult you trust, even if your friend doesn’t want you to. Telling someone might save their life.