ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS. CHILD ABUSE PREVENTION, ARTICLES
Dark Side of Dating
It seems like teens now, more than ever before, want to be in an intimate relationship—almost as if it has become a rite of passage in school. Through this relationship teens, just like you, feel they are given a chance to be part of a peer group, gain a social status they might not have had before or simply feel more mature and “grown up”. Yes, there is a sense of belonging in a relationship, however, it seems no one talks about the dark side of teen dating—dating violence and abuse.
It’s a common myth to think there is no violence in teen dating when in fact these relationships can often be riddled with abuse. In order to understand the dynamics of an abusive relationship, you need to understand abuse itself.
Abuse can take many forms: physical, emotional, mental, financial, or sexual.
Have you ever seen a friend getting pushed around by their partner? Chances are that the person is in a physically abusive relationship. Physical abuse is classified as any violent act directed towards a person such as getting punched, pushed or shoved very roughly.
Or maybe you have seen a friend continually being put down by their partner? In fact, many teen relationships are often comprised of emotional and mental abuse directed towards a partner. Mental, emotional, and psychological abuse happens in a relationship when an individual is continually put down, threatened, has their emotions and feelings hurt, or is constantly accused of cheating because of severe jealousy. An abusive partner will also try to be very controlling of the victim in the relationship.
If someone in your school or in your circle of friends ever discloses that they were forced to partake in, or perform, a sexual act against their will – it is known as sexual abuse. Sexual abuse often goes unreported, especially in teenagers, because they feel embarrassed or ashamed of being labelled or treated differently by their peers and everyone else around them.
Always, always remember that it is the abuser who is at fault, not the victim.
Often the abuser can seem just like anyone else— your friend, your classmate; just as the victim could be someone you may know—your neighbour, your classmate, even your close friend.
If you know there is someone being abused by their partner, there are many things that you can do to help them.
Listen to and support them. Talk to the person and bring up the abuse yourself by explaining what you see and feel occurs in the relationship. Remember to listen to their side of the story without passing your own judgements. There may be times where the person may not like what you have to say or even flat-out refuse to acknowledge the abuse, passing it off as an unusual occurrence. During those trying times all you can do is have patience and support the person. Just as hard as it for you to see them get hurt—it is hard for them to leave the relationship.
If they chose to remain in the relationship…
…continue to listen to them and always ask about their safety. If you feel the person’s life is in danger, you have the right to call the police or 9-1-1. But do not rush in calling the police as it may cause the individual to lie to you or create a lack of trust in your relationship. Instead, if they choose to stay with the abuser, make sure you get a chance to safety plan with them. Safety planning is a plan that is used to help the individual when the abusive situation occurs. For example, helping your friend figure out how to get to a safe area and call help if a partner starts to punch them. In this case, figure out ways they can reduce the harm that comes to them and how they can go about helping themselves after their partner leaves. This plan helps them deal with the situation, ensures they are not completely alone and that there are supports in place they can fall back on.
Read More: 5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Toxic People
If the person feels they do not want to talk to you or anyone they know, provide them with resources around your city. Even if they do not want these resources, they can be there for when they chose to let someone in. There are counsellors, crisis lines, psychologists or even group supports that they could attend to talk about their experience and troubles. It is important they get a chance to talk to someone about their situation, even if that person is not you. You could also offer to take them to and from appointments to ensure that they get to all the places they need to.
Other ways that you can help
Continually encourage the person to take time away from the abuser and spend more time with family and friends. By helping them integrate back into their family and community, it takes control away from the abuser and allows the individual to clear their mind and find the courage to leave the relationship slowly by re-attaching to family and friends.
And lastly, remember that you can offer all the supports in the world, provide a listening ear and even voice your own observations of the person’s relationship; however, it is up to the individual if they choose to accept your support and resources. You cannot make a person do anything, so it is not your place to try and save them.
You are the catalyst that empowers them to continue on their own journey to healing.
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