When dating violence hits close to home

two girlfriends outdoorI have never personally experienced dating violence and I am thankful for that; however I have a friend that has. I have seen the struggles that she has been through and the pain that she has felt while in an abusive relationship. I have watched her pull away and remove herself from our group of friends while becoming more depressed each day. Yet even though she is surrounded by friends (including me) who care about her, she feels alone and refuses to change her situation.

Dating violence is more common than you might think and many times it goes unreported, as teens are often too afraid or embarrassed to tell their family and friends what they are experiencing. Some are simply in denial. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), teen dating violence is defined as “the physical, sexual, psychological, or emotional violence within a dating relationship, and can include stalking”. It’s important to remember that this type of violence can affect anyone, that’s why it’s important to know the early signs of abuse.

You may be wondering how you can tell if you are in an abusive relationship. Ask yourself the following questions. Does your partner….

  • Check your email/and or social networking accounts without your permission?
  • Feel the need to look at your cell phone to see who you’re calling or who is calling you?
  • Constantly put you down and attack your self-esteem?
  • Become extremely jealous or insecure?
  • Have an explosive temper or get inappropriately angry over small issues?
  • Keep you from spending time with your family or friends?
  • Lie or say things about you that aren’t true?
  • Have mood swings or times when he/she is happy, angry, upset all in the same day?
  • Physically hurt you in any way?
  • Act like he/she owns you?
  • Tell you what to do?
  • Ever pressures or forces you to have sex?

If you answered YES to 1 or more of these questions, talk to a trusted adult right away. This is abuse. You can also call one of the following resources and talk with someone who can help you:

  • National Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-800-331-9474
  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
  • The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)

Our relationships influence how we feel about ourselves, our emotions, and our perception of life in general. Violence is never acceptable, which is one of the main things that I’ve tried to tell my friend. No matter what your boyfriend or girlfriend tells you, or how much they say they love you, dating violence is abuse, unhealthy, wrong and should never be tolerated.

– Mirtula