Things to Know About Teen Dating Abuse

  1. One in ten teenagers will experience some form of physical abuse in their dating relationships.
  2. Jealousy and possessiveness are not a sign of love, they are tools used by a partner to take control.
  3. 85% of all people who are the victims in an abusive relationship are women.
  4. Drugs and alcohol are not the main cause of women being abused in relationships. While drugs and alcohol do play a part in abuse they are an excuse not a reason for the abuse.
  5. It is not the victim’s fault that he/she are being abused. The abusive partner may try to make the victim responsible for the abuse.
  6. People stay in abusive relationships for many reasons, however they don’t stay because it really isn’t that bad. Any abuse is bad abuse. There is no such thing as good abuse or justifiable abuse.
  7. Batterers (people who abuse others) are not the scary bums or crazy people we sometimes imagine they are. They are everyday people without any real outward signs that might tip us off to their behaviors. They are rich, poor, educated, drop outs, professional, unemployed, people of all races. They live in the city or the country, they look just like you and me.

Is Danger Ahead in Your Relationship?

When beginning a new relationship, sometimes the excitement of going out with someone you really like stops you from seeing the warning signs of abuse. Remember, you don’t have to have broken bones or a black eye to be abused. You may be experiencing emotional abuse, which could turn into physical abuse.

Warning Signs of Abuse

Are you going out with someone who…

  • Is jealous and possessive toward you, won’t let you have friends, checks up on you, won’t accept breaking up.
  • Tries to control you by being very bossy, giving orders, making all the decisions, doesn’t take your opinion seriously.
  • Is scary! You worry about how they will react to things you say or do. Threatens you, uses or owns weapons.
  • Is violent, has a history of fighting, loses temper quickly, brags about mistreating others.
  • Pressures you for sex, is forceful or scary around sex. Thinks women or girls are sex objects. Attempts to manipulate or guilt-trip you by saying, “If you really loved me you would…” Gets too serious about the relationship too fast.
  • Abuses drugs or alcohol and pressures you to take them.
  • Blames you when they mistreat you. Says you provoked them, pressed their buttons, made them do it, led them on.
  • Has a history of bad relationships and blames the other person for all the problems. “Girls just don’t understand me.”
  • Believes that men should be in control and powerful and that women should be passive and submissive.
  • Has hit, pushed, choked, restrained, kicked, or physically abused you.
  • Your family and friends have warned you about the person or told you they were worried for your safety.

If any of these warning signs are present in your relationship, it is very important to talk with someone you trust NOW, or Contact Us for advice and/or referral information.

Things for Victims to Know

  1. You are not alone.
    Our society often glorifies violence, but then looks the other way and rejects those who are victims of violence, especially victims of interpersonal or sexual violence. Because of this attitude, many people are so ashamed of having been battered that they will not tell even their closest friends. The abuser often isolates the victim or threatens her with harm if she does tell anyone. As a result, many victims think that they are the only one involved with an abuser. It is a great relief to find out there are many others dealing with abuse.
  2. The abuse is not your fault.
    Everyone’s heard the phrase, “You made me do it,” or “You pressed my buttons,” or “You’ve got to learn who’s boss.” All too often the abuser will blame the victim for the abuse. The guilt placed on the victim is a tremendous burden and is the number one cause for lower self-image in victims. Perpetrators are always responsible for their actions. The abuse is not the fault of the victim.
  3. If it feels scary, it’s abuse.
    If you are touched in a personal way that feels scary to you, then it’s abuse. If you are touched in a personal way that feels uncomfortable to you, then it’s abuse. If you are touched in a personal way that feels bad to you, then it’s abuse.
  4. Get some help & support for yourself.
    Most abusers refuse to seek help because they don’t realize how bad their problem is. Victims often feel too embarrassed or scared to seek help. They also may not realize how bad the problem is. Try to get help from organizations like MAAV, teen health centers, your school, or crisis lines. There are laws to protect victims, shelters for battered women, support groups, and sympathetic people willing just to listen. Call the National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline at 1-866-331-9474.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Do you know someone who has been left? Or someone who has wanted to break up with someone and doesn’t know how? Maybe these things have happened to you. The breaking up experience can be very hard and often times people get hurt. Below is a list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts” that may help breaking up easier to go through.

DO’s

  • Explain the reason if you can
  • Be respectful
  • Listen
  • Find ways to take care of your feelings, for example:
    -Keep a journal
    -Talk to friends
    -Exercise, play sports
    -Listen to music
    -Seek counseling
  • It may make breaking up easier if you agree on some of the following things:
    -Will you still hang out together?
    -Can you still call each other?
    -Do both of you still want to be friends? (this can only work if both people agree)
  • If both people agree:
    -In what ways will you still be friends?
    -How are you going to handle things with friends who know you both?

DON’T’s

  • Threaten
  • Have sex one last time
  • Follow person to see who they are going out with
  • Call unless you’ve both agreed this is OK
  • Break up to:
    -Scare the person into doing things your way
    -Get even
  • Call names, spread rumors
  • Isolate yourself, be alone
  • Assume being friends means you will get back together
  • Try to get the person pregnant
  • Try to give the person a STD

Breaking Up Safely

If you don’t feel safe, don’t break up in person. It may seem cruel to break up over the phone or by email but it may be the safest way.

  •  If you break up in person, do it in a public place. Have friends or your parents wait nearby. Try to take a cell phone with you.
  • Don’t try to explain your reasons for ending the relationship more than once. There is nothing you can say that will make your ex happy.
  • Let your friends and parents know you are ending your relationship, especially if you think your ex will come to your house or confront you when you’re alone.
  • If your ex does come to your house when you’re alone, don’t go to the door.
  • Trust yourself. If you feel afraid, you probably have a good reason.
  • Ask for help. Go to www.loveisrespect.org and chat with a trained peer advocate who is able to answer your questions. Talk to any trusted adult or call MAAV at 781-662-2010.
  • Just because an unhealthy or abusive relationship is over, doesn’t mean the risk of violence is too. Talk with your friends and family so they can support you.

After the Break-Up

  •  If you can, tell your parents what’s going on, especially if your ex may come by your home.
  • Talk to a school counselor or teacher you trust. Together, you can alert security, adjust your class schedule or find other ways to help you feel safer.
  • Avoid isolated areas at school and local hangouts. Don’t walk alone or wear earphones.
  • Keep friends or family close when attending parties or events you think your ex might attend.
  • Save any threatening or harassing messages your ex sends. Set your profile to private on social networking sites and ask friends to do the same.
  • If you ever feel you’re in immediate danger, call 911.
  • Memorize important numbers in case you don’t have access to your cell phone.

Early Warning Signs for Parents

Is your child involved with someone who:

  • Is overly possessive and demonstrating a real need to control
  • Is jealous to the extreme point where it becomes an obsession
  • Is into controlling your child’s everyday events
  • Is prone to violent outbursts
  • Is a person who has a history of poor relationships
  • Is infringing upon your child’s freedom to make choices for himself/herself
  • Is limiting the time your child spends with other people
  • Is using external pressure to influence decision making
  • Is into passing blame and denying their own mistakes
  • Is in the habit of using put downs or playing mind games
  • Is not a person who can be disagreed with easily
  • Is encouraging your child to keep secrets
  • Is causing your child to become more withdrawn

If you see any of these warning signs in your teenager’s dating relationship, we encourage you to seek professional assistance. Please Contact Us for referral information.

Parenting for Healthy Relationships

  1. Teach Your Teen to Protect Him or Herself
    Help your teen become aware of the issues involved in teen dating violence. Encourage him/her to evaluate the safety of various situations. Brainstorm all possible ways of handling a situation, using events from the newspaper, experience of a friend, TV or movies. Help teens develop self-awareness by encouraging them to think, choose and make decisions for themselves.
  2. Teach Your Teen To Be Assertive
    Assertiveness is the ability to exercise one’s own rights while respecting the rights of others. It means communicating exactly what you want and don’t want, standing up for yourself, and stating your opinions, thoughts and feelings without abusing others. Help your teen learn the difference between passive, assertive and aggressive behavior. A self-defense course can develop assertiveness skills. Ask your teen “Have you ever said yes when you wanted to say no?” Practice what you could say or do if given another chance.
  3. Practice Conflict Resolution in the Home
    Productive confrontation involves honest communication, willingness to listen to others, compromise and problem-solving. When parents provide models of effective interpersonal interactions, they are teaching violence prevention skills.
  4. Challenge The Attitudes And Images That Create A Tolerance For Violence In Intimate Relationships
    Help your teen critique what they see in the media. You can repeatedly assert that no one deserves to be emotionally, verbally or physically abused, and that violence is never justified. You may find you have to confront some of your own values and attitudes.
  5. Help Your Teen Identify And Define Healthy Relationships
    Point out features of healthy relationships from books, movies or real life. In addition to feelings of love, emphasize the following characteristics of healthy relationships:

    • Both partners give and take, each getting their way some of the time and compromising some of the time.
    • They respect each other, and value one another’s opinions.
    • They support and encourage one another’s goals and ambitions.
    • They trust one another, and learn not to inflict jealous and restrictive feelings on the other if they should arise.
    • Neither is afraid of the other.
    • They communicate openly and honestly, and make their partners feel safe in expressing themselves.
    • They share responsibility in decision-making.
    • They accept the differences between them.
    • They encourage each other to have friends and activities outside the relationship.

Getting Help

All teens have the right to a safe and healthy relationship, regardless of who you are, where you live, or who you love. No one deserves to live with violence or fear.  If you or a friend needs help, you can contact:

  1. Any trusted teacher, coach or Guidance Counselor
  2. Your local police department
  3. The Melrose Alliance Against Violence at 781-662-2010 or online here

24-hour Hotlines:

  • Respond, Inc. in Somerville: 617-623-5900
  • REACH in Waltham: 800-899-4000
  • The National Teen Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474
  • Boston Area Rape Crisis Center: 800-841-8371
  • Samariteens (Suicide prevention): 800-252-TEEN
  • Gay & Lesbian Peer Listening Line: 800-399-PEER

Learn more at these great websites: