Dating at such a young age is not encouraged, but it’s happening all over the country and it’s not at all what it used to be.
Did you know that most states won’t even consider violence among teen relationships as domestic abuse? While the rest of us understand its an epidemic that is hitting teenagers and it may cost them their lives. According to experts, “8 States in the U.S. do not consider a violent dating relationship domestic abuse. Therefore, adolescents, teens, and 20-somethings are unable to apply for a restraining order for protection from the abuser.”
The victims usually fall between t 13 and 17 years of age and sometimes even younger. It’s starting as early as middle school and statistics show roughly 1.5 million high school boys and girls in the U.S. admit to being intentionally hit or physically harmed in the last year by someone they are romantically involved with.
We know that regardless of gender, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation, domestic violence can happen to anyone through no fault of their own. According to Safe Horizon, men are victims of nearly 3 million physical assaults in the USA and every 1 out of 4 women will experience domestic abuse in her lifetime. As shocking as this may sound, these are statistics we commonly hear about in adults. What about statistics about our teens? Who’s reporting statistics on teen dating violence? Nobody, because the teens are not speaking out enough about the topic for anyone to truly understand that it’s a problem that exists among the teens and it’s not something that will go away anytime soon. I can completely see this issue getting out of hand as their relationships progresses into marriage and later in life a family of their own because early in life nobody corrected the situation. Nobody took the time to explain that it is not the norm and no it doesn’t happen in every relationship even if they’ve witnessed it happening at home. Now, is that the root of the problem? Is this where the violence begins, in their home?
Let’s first begin by defining the term Dating Violence. National Center for Victims of Crime defines the term as controlling, abusive, and aggressive behavior in a romantic relationship. It can happen in straight or gay relationships. It can include verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse, or a combination.
The form of controlling that we speak about doesn’t come immediately, but sneaks up on you over time. You may find it cute that he’s very possessive of you because he really loves you. Once they have figured out a way to intimidate their victim, then full control can be taken. Most victims don’t even know it’s happening to them because so many factors fall into the way they do it. It’s always because they care and love you is what they want the victim to believe.
Hanging out with your friends will become a huge issue and you’ll find yourself being around your friends less and less frequently. The abuser will plan ways to constantly be with you regardless of where you go. Trust will no longer exist between the both of you. Constant texts and calls to find out where you are and who you are with when they are not able to be with you. Eventually, they will begin to control what you wear and where you go. Clothes that are too form fitting and sexy will be soon become a big No No and you won’t be able to wear it at all. Your social media accounts will be monitored and you’ll be pressured into giving up your passwords by being accused of cheating and this will be your way of proving that you’re not.
Once they have mastered the control portion, they move on to verbal and emotional abuse. Another step closer to breaking you, the victim down. They will belittle you and call you names and use derogatory terms about you every chance they get. This may take place in the privacy of his or even your home while your parents are home in the next room.
The physical contact will eventually happen and doesn’t necessarily come in a form of a punch to your face. They can pull your hair, slap you, and pinch you where nobody can see a bruise forming. They may hit you in places that won’t leave a mark and the frequency of incidents will increase over time.
Forced sexual activity may be another form of teen violence. It may start with a kiss and or an inappropriate touch. They may pressure you to send them nude photos of your body. It will continue to progress further and they will continue to test your limits as to how far they can go with you. If you fight back, they may threaten to hurt you or your family if you don’t give in and keep it a secret. They may force you to do other things that make you uncomfortable. Even a decision such as taking birth control will be taken away from you.
The abuse does not necessarily come in this order or any order for that matter, but these are very common signs among teens. Most educators and parents rarely notice or even remotely think this can happen to their child at such as early age.
If you are reading this and find yourself in an abusive relationship, know there is help out there for you. If you know someone who’s in an abusive relationship, know there is help out there for them as well. Get involved and say something. The consequences are not good if the problems persist without someone getting involved and bringing an end to this epidemic. Teens who suffer from dating abuse are subject to long-term consequences like alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, thoughts of suicide, and violent behavior.
According to National Center for Victims of Crime, they advise the victim the following. If you decide to tell, you should know that some adults are mandated reporters. This means they are legally required to report neglect or abuse to someone else, such as the police or child protective services. You can ask people if they are mandated reporters and then decide what you want to do. Some examples of mandated reporters are teachers, counselors, doctors, social workers, and in some cases, coaches or activity leaders. If you want help deciding whom to talk to, call a crisis line in your area. You might also want to talk to a trusted family member, a friend’s parent, an adult neighbor or friend, an older sibling or cousin, or other experienced person who you trust.
Links to get help or help others:
Today, educators and parents need to keep a closer look and watch for signs of abuse in young teens. It’s not enough to stop them during the actual incident, but to prevent it from happening again. The long term affects could be disastrous. Starting from inability to concentrate in school at the very best; encouraging early drop out from school. To something more tragic like suicide. “50% of young people who experience rape or physical or sexual abuse will attempt to commit suicide.” according to Dosomething.org. These numbers are very frightening and will continue to climb if awareness is not brought into every school and every home in this country.
February is the official Teen Violence Awareness Month!
Join the movement and raise awareness about this important and crucial national epidemic!
By: Ida L