Any young person can experience dating abuse regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion, or culture. Dating abuse is a pattern of destructive behaviors used to exert power and control over a dating partner.
UNHEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS AND ABUSE OVERVIEW
ARE YOU IN AN UNHEALTHY OR ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP?
Ask yourself the following questions about your partner.
- Pressures you do to things you don’t want to do?
- Have unexpected bouts of anger or rage?
- Constantly monitoring your whereabouts and checking in to see what you are doing and who you are with?
- Do they constantly put you down?
- Is there extreme jealousy or insecurity?
- Threatens to “out” you or tell others about your sexual orientation or gender identity?
- Questions your status as a “real” lesbian, trans person, bisexual, gay person, etc.?
- Pressuring you to have sex or controls and restricts your use of birth control or condoms?
- Vandalizing your personal property?
- Threatens or scares you?
- Hits, punch, pinch, kick, or pushes you?
- Tries to stop you from seeing or talking to friends or family members?
Still unsure if your relationship is healthy or not take this quiz: https://www.breakthecycle.org/healthy-relationships-quiz
1 IN 3 TEENS
In the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND YOURSELF IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP
If you have questions about dating, consent, or if you are in an unhealthy relationship you deserve support and help with your situation. There are many things you can do.
- Reach out to a trusted teacher, parent, or mentor.
- Start spending time with people who support you and you feel comfortable with.
- Get involved with activities you enjoy that will allow you to be with people who are positive.
- WRC has a 24hrs a day/every day of the week hotline with advocates available to you 760-757-3500.
- Seek out a guidance counselor or therapist.
If you believe that you may be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship do not hesitate to ask for help. Teenage dating violence is more common than you know. Trust your instincts, if you think your relationship is unhealthy, you should end it. If you are afraid of what your partner might do seek help from a trusted adult. You are not alone.
HELP A FRIEND
Talking to a friend about their relationship can be very difficult and you may not be sure how you can help them. Remember that your friend may seem like they don’t want to listen or hear it. Even though they are in the abusive relationship they may not recognize the warning signs or may be afraid to talk about it. The decision to leave can only be made by them. As a friend try to listen and be there for them.
- Don’t spread gossip. this could make your friend’s situation more dangerous.
- Don’t try to confront the abuser or rush your friend into a decision they aren’t comfortable with.
- Don’t post negative things about the abuser online. This will only make it worse for your friend.
- Be supportive and listen patiently.
- Help your friend recognize that the abuse is not “normal” and is NOT their fault. Everyone deserves a healthy, non-violent relationship.
- Focus on your friend or family member, not the abusive partner. Even if your loved one stays with their partner, it’s important they still feel comfortable talking to you about it.
Connect your friend to resources in their community that can give them information and guidance. Encourage them to reach out to a trusted adult, teacher, or parent. If you feel that your friend is in immediate danger or that their life is at risk or has been threatened, you may want to get emergency support by calling 911. It may not be your first choice for help, but if things are serious it’s important to call professionals for support.
WHAT IF MY FRIEND IS BEING ABUSIVE?
It is hard to see someone you care about being abusive. We often try to find excuses or ignore the behavior. But if they are hurting someone it is not love and your silence is encouraging the behavior.
If you feel it is safe you need to acknowledge the behavior and tell your friend or family member that what they are doing is abuse. They may try to deny it or blame the victim for the behavior, do not support these efforts. Encourage them to speak to a counselor or adult who can help them work on changing their behavior. Remember that abuse is the choice made by them and do not get caught in the middle.
As a bystander you can reach out to get help with the situation. Talk to your parents, teachers, or call WRC for help. If you feel that your friend is going to hurt themselves or their partner call the police.
Amber wants to say hi to Chris, but Tommy, her boyfriend, won’t let her. When Amber laughs off the jealousy, Tommy, whose hand she is holding, squeezes her hand – hard. Amber tells Tommy to stop because he is hurting her and Tommy responds, “Then maybe you should listen when I tell you something.”
This is physical abuse.