Karimat and Ty are teens who are dating, but as Karimat confessed, he doesn’t seem to respect her. Whenever they have a fight or an argument, he calls her names – hurtful, degrading words that’s painful for her to even say. And on occasion when she had felt uncomfortable around him, and had wanted to leave; he had detained her by holding on forcibly to her arm until she had threatened to scream. She wonders if this is normal behaviour in a relationship, and if she’s just over-reacting. Do you think that’s the case?
It is not OK, neither is it normal! This is called teen dating abuse!! Teen dating abuse or violence include the use of mean and hurtful words, physical violence, and forced sexual contact to get the other person to do what he/she wants, to gain power and control, to cause humiliation, promote fear, and to retaliate against a partner.
- Controlling Behavior – This may include: Not letting you hang out with your friends; Calling, Messaging you frequently to find out where you are, whom you’re with, and what you’re doing; Telling you what to wear or having to be with you all the time
- Verbal and Emotional Abuse – This may include: Calling you names, Jealousy, Belittling you (cutting you down with words), Threatening to hurt you
- Physical Abuse – This may include: Pushing, Punching, Slapping, Pinching, Hitting, Kicking, Hair Pulling or Strangling.
- Sexual Abuse – This may include: Unwanted touching and kissing, Forcing you to have sex, Forcing you to do sexual things.
This seems like a lot to take in at once right? So read it slowly because it can happen to anyone, boys or girls. Do you recognise these signs in your relationship, or those of your friends? What can you do?
Understand the 4R’s
- Right to have your own opinion
- Right to say “No” to getting physical
- Right to have other friends
- Right to end the relationship
Ever heard that famous axiom “Knowledge is Power”? That is what having information arms you with, and applying them make you even more powerful. Especially when you know that whatever is happening is not your fault, that you are not powerless to stop it, that you have no reason to keep quiet for fear of being hurt, that you have nothing to be ashamed of, and you do not owe the abuser anything – even protecting them! This will move you to get help which is next.
Being a victim of dating violence is not your fault. Nothing you say, wear, or do gives anyone the right to hurt you.
- If you think you are being abused, get help immediately. Don’t keep your concerns to yourself.
- Talk to someone you trust like a parent, teacher, school principal, or counselor
- Let friends or family know when you are afraid or need help.
- When you go out, say where you are going and when you’ll be back.
- Memorize important phone numbers, such as the people to contact or places to go in an emergency.
- Keep spare change, or a cell phone handy for immediate access to communication.
- ALWAYS go out in a group.
- Have money available for transportation if you need to take a bus to escape.
If you know someone who might be in an abusive relationship, you can help them by:
- Telling the person that you are worried.
- Being a good listener.
- Offering your friendship and support.
- Asking how you can help.
- Encouraging your friend to seek help.
- Educating yourself about dating violence and healthy relationships as you are doing now
- Avoiding any confrontations with the abuser. This could be dangerous for you and your friend.