Teenage Relationships: Abuse

Julieann Alexander

In today’s age, being in a relationship while you're a teenager is perfectly normal. After being in a relationship myself for a VERY long time, I have met nearly every issue a teen relationship could have. Gas money, where you’ll go on your next date, other girls/boys, stress with grades or sports, neediness , and just plain out disrespect are just some examples. But those aren't as big as what others go through. Abusive relationships don't exactly need to be physically abusive. There are different kinds of abuse.

Boys AND girls are not educated enough on the different versions of abuse. They either think that abuse is just physical, or that the other kinds of abuse aren't as bad, that they were made for wimps. But let me tell you something. Verbal and emotional abuse is just as bad as physical abuse. It may seem totally stupid for me to be saying this, and you may roll your eyes, but words are very powerful. They hurt the same way being hit does. I'm not going to sit here and write a lecture on how words hurt, and we need to be careful because we are all friends here. I'm not a guidance counselor.

According to DoSomething.org, around 1.5 million high school boys and girls in the U.S. admit to being deliberately hit or physically harmed in the last year by someone they are romantically involved with, and 1 in 3 people will be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship. Also, 33% of teenagers in America are victim to physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional dating violence. Women between the ages of 16 and 24 are about 3 times more likely than the rest of the population to be abused by an intimate partner, but that doesn't mean that men aren't abused too.

Emotional abuse, in my own definition, is a silent killer. You'll be happy in public, holding hands, laughing, but there is always that weight hanging over your shoulders, preventing you from having no worries. You'll feel like something is wrong with your relationship, but you just can't put your finger on it. You also might feel like your boyfriend or girlfriend doesn't care about what you have to say, at all, whether it be something that's been bothering you or a story on what happened during your day. They don’t seem to care about your feelings. It is the most terrible feeling in the world. Having the person you were so head over heels for treat you like dirt in private but flaunt your faux love in public, it’s like an emotional roller coaster. Also, another sign of emotional abuse is if you have to defend yourself from being accused of cheating or flirting whenever you're having a normal conversation with another boy or girl. If you know yourself that you weren't flirting, than there should be no issue. If your girl or your boy accuses you of cheating for talking with other people, that's not very good. Boys and girls these days are a lot less respectful to each other than in the ‘good old days’. Just think about the way your person makes you feel. If they make you really upset over something not worth getting upset over, then maybe you should sit them down and talk to them, or maybe just cut it off before it gets worse. It’s all up to you, though. You do you.

Verbal abuse is hard to deal with also. Verbal abuse is having your partner call you hurtful names, blaming you, or degrading you in front of friends. Let me tell you something. If your girlfriend or boyfriend is calling you hurtful names, yelling, accusing, or just plain old bullying you, you need to sit them down and stand your ground. They do not have any right to hurt your feelings by doing this. When it first starts, you’ll probably make excuses for him doing it. For example, one was that he had a bad day. Another was that he was just stressed with school or sports, and it'll be A-okay tomorrow. But no, it gets worse. In a recent interview with a fellow anonymous woman who was verbally abused, she states that “It only gets worse, and eventually you run out of excuses for it. They will continue with this until they get help, so get out of there as soon as you can. It will hurt, and you will be heartbroken. You will want to go back to them, because you think they’ve changed, but that is rarely the case. Move on, it’s for your own good. Trust me.” Maybe take in what she says. Think about yourself in this case, because right now it is perfectly fine being selfish. Tell a trusted adult.

Then there is the scariest one, in my opinion. Sexual abuse. In today’s age, a lot of teenage relationships are discovering new things, doing new things that some people disagree with. For example,sexual abuse includes unwanted touching, demanding sex or sexual actions, insisting anything sexual that frightens you or you don't like, and withholding sexual actions as a form of control. If any of these things are happening to you, you need to go to someone about it. Tell an adult, or call a hotline if you don't want people to know that you're sexually active. But I think that your parents will be happier that you got out of that relationship. It’s going to be difficult coming forward. You may think that this isn't really happening to you, that what he or she is doing isn't actually sexual abuse. You may also still have strong feelings about them. The National Hotline for Sexual Assault number is 800.656.HOPE (4673), or you can talk to someone online at online.rainn.org

Leaving your partner is going to be difficult, I know. But just think to yourself, “Is this what I really want? Do I want someone who treats me like dirt for the rest of my life?” Whatever your answer is, act on it. If you need someone to talk to, go to a certified adult, like the guidance counselor. You can also go to your parents or a trusted teacher. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.