(by Dawson McAllister)
Did you know that violence in teen dating affects 1 in 3 adolescents in the U.S.? That number is staggering to me.
I’ve been asking myself why this is…why is it that one in three teens allows themselves to be in a relationship where they are being violated?
I believe one reason is because abusers often start out being smooth talkers and are very charming. Nicole and I talked about this as she was getting into a relationship, which was starting to show some red flags.
Another reason is that teens and young adults simply don’t know how to recognize abuse. In fact, in a survey of college students, 57% said that dating abuse was hard to identify. (Source) Perhaps many teens and young adults have never seen a relationship based on love and respect modeled for them before. And now as they are getting into their very first relationship, they love being “in love” (or what they think is love). So they accept things from their boyfriend/girlfriend that are simply NOT okay because they don’t know things can be different. They’re willing to make excuses for their boyfriend/girlfriend in order to stay in the relationship, and maybe they think they can change them. Unfortunately, they are standing on a slippery slope and unless they understand what is and what is not appropriate behavior, they may continue to dive in head first.
I have talked to many teens who regret things they’ve done in relationships simply because they didn’t know any better.
It is my hope that we can make teens and young adults aware of what is and what isn’t appropriate in dating before they become victims of violence.
Here are 8 behaviors that are NOT acceptable in a relationship.
If you see teens in your life experiencing any of this, tell them it’s not okay if your boyfriend or girlfriend is:
• Insulting you, putting you down, or hurting your feelings with their words.
• Disrespecting your opinions or thoughts, making you feel dumb or worthless
• Isolating you from friends and family by controlling who you are “allowed” to talk to and convincing you that your family and friends aren’t good for you.
• Controlling you…telling you where you can go, who you can see, and how you can spend your money, etc.
• Overly jealous. Spying on you or checking in on you too much. Reading your texts or stalking your social media. Accusing you of cheating or flirting with others when you are not doing anything wrong. Listen to this call from Jared whose girlfriend help him realize his overly jealous actions were abusive.
• Blaming you for their abusive actions…making you feel like it is your fault they say mean things or are physically rough with you.
• Physically rough. While you may know that hitting is not appropriate, neither is pushing, grabbing, pinching, hair pulling or any other physical touch that makes you feel uncomfortable or scared.
• Forcing sexual activity of any sort. If you are not consenting to the sexual activity, it is abuse.
My desire, which I’m sure matches yours, is that teens and young adults know that they never need to settle for a relationship that is abusive. There is a better way. While no human love is perfect, 1 Corinthians 13 is always a good guide for the type of loving relationship to aim for:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.