You think you are in love when your partner gives you a devastating blow. He or she is not a cheater but they are one to deliver verbal and physical abuse. The first few times it happened you opted to ignore it, but these days the hostility is becoming greater. So what do you do? The first step in handling an abusive relationship is to recognize the signs of dating abuse, and the second move is to do something drastic about the situation.
What is Dating Abuse?
Dating abuse takes place when one person in an exclusive relationship behaves in a violent manner. Even if a person only makes threats that he or she never carries out, such remarks can be viewed as abusive. Thousands of men and women suffer from verbal and physical abuse, though women tend to be on the receiving end of an abusive relationship more often than their male counterparts.
A Few Dating Abuse Facts
Among the millions of women engaged in intimate relationships, 35% of them are involved with someone who is either physically or verbally abusive. Whereas women in liberal countries such as the United States have the liberality to escape violent relationships, those women in more conservative nations whose marriage is often arranged by family cannot simply leave their partner when the union becomes too intense. These women are often forced to remain in the situation, and sometimes suffer the ultimate consequence for such social mandate. In addition to adult women who suffer from violence, teenagers also have high dating abuse statistics. More than one million high school students worldwide have dating abuse stories but few of them realize their predicament. Why is that?
Abuse among Teens
Many young men and women are exploring the world of dating, and hence do not immediately recognize the signs of unnecessary tension. A boy who pulls a girl close to himself when another male passes by may be viewed as loving by his girlfriend. She may not think to consider such act as controlling, and hence may not question her boyfriend or establish boundaries. In the same manner a boy may think that a girl’s constant criticism of his looks or intelligence is a way of expressing her love for him. He may not deem the behavior as abusive. In retrospect, controlling and manipulative acts are breeding grounds for major violence in the long run, but teenagers rarely see the warning signs as red flags.
A Further Look at the Types of Abuse
The following acts can be found in a physically abusive relationship:
- Spanking with belt, other object, or even hand
While there are many other ways to abuse one’s partner, these acts are the most prevalent signs of dating abuse. Anyone who is the recipient of such treatment should take action immediately. While three times is a charm for many things in life, you only need to be hit, pushed, or violently grabbed once to realize that the union is not healthy.
Although not always as obvious as physical violence, mental abuse is just as treacherous to one’s well-being. The following quotes are examples of unhealthy interactions:
- “You are so dumb.”
- “You’re not attractive.”
- “No one wants you.”
- “Only idiots do what you have done.”
- “You have really let yourself go.”
- “What man (or woman) would want to be with you? I’m in this relationship as a favor to you.”
- “I have more intelligence in my pinky than you’ve got in your whole brain.”
While some comments may not be as offensive as others, any remark that does not leave a person empowered to reach new heights can be considered abusive. After all, shouldn’t the love of your life the one telling you that you can conquer the world when the rest of society says that you cannot? So then why is he or she pointing out all of your flaws in such a negative manner? Although physical violence garners the attention of many because of its immediate effects, mental attacks make it difficult to date after an abusive relationship.
The following acts are classified as sexually aggressive:
- A partner who forces his or her mate to engage in intimate activity.
- A boy or girl who tries to pressure their partner into having sexual intercourse.
- A man or woman who makes their mate feels badly about themselves sexually.
While most individuals who are married do not consider themselves capable of being victims of sexual abuse, it is possible to fall prey to aggressiveness even after exchanging vows. Sexual intercourse should always be a two-way street, meaning that both parties involved want to engage in the act. If she is willing but he is not, they the act should be abandoned; otherwise the more aggressive half could become an abuser.
What Can Be Done?
More than 80% of parents who surveyed their children know that their kids are involved in abusive relationships, but do not feel that they have the tools needed to stop the madness. More than 50% of parents have admitted to not even delving into their kids’ social lives enough to know whether or not they are in a relationship, let alone an abusive one.
If teenagers and young adults are ever going to overcome what seems to be the new norm of violent unions, then parents must begin to do their part in learning more about their kids’ lives. While it is not necessary to pry into your teen’s business by having a formal sit-down with every acquaintance, you should know if your child becomes involved with someone who has the potential to be a spouse in the near or distant future.
If you are involved in an aggressive relationship, you should make every effort to communicate. First, tell your partner that such behavior is unacceptable, and then inform a family member or friend of what has taken place. You should never remain in a relationship that is physically abusive regardless of whether or not such contact leaves noticeable bruises. The national dating abuse helpline can help you take the next step in moving forward after violence has ensued, but it is crucial that you do not intentionally place yourself in position to be hurt again.
Family members and friends can also take action by saying something if they notice abnormal behavior coming from the victim. Many times the abused will not speak up for fear of losing their “lover,” and so it is up to family and friends to notify authorities when physical violence is evident. Loved ones can be instrumental in preventing mental abuse as well. Simply taking a family member or friend under your wing and letting them know how valuable they are is sometimes all the courage they need to leave their abuser.
The National Domestic Violence Hotline is an excellent source for victims who have suffered from violence. The source is also great for those who think they may be in an abusive relationship but are not quite sure. You should ask yourself the following questions if you feel that you may be the victim of abuse:
- Are you ever embarrassed in public by your partner?
- Does he threaten to kill himself or you?
- Does she look or in act in ways that frighten you?
- Has he ever slapped or choked you, even in a “playful” manner?
- For parents, does your spouse ever criticize your parenting skills to the point of you believing that you are a bad mother or father?
- Are weapons ever used to intimidate or put you back in your place?
- Who makes the decisions in the relationship? Is there a democracy or dictatorship going?
- Do your dreams and ambitions have to be placed on hold so he or she can pursue better things in life?
If after answering these questions you feel confident that your relationship is healthy, and then continue to build on the union. If, however, you are uncertain, then you should consider contacting the dating abuse hotline at 800-799-SAFE. Even if it turns out that you are well on your way to building a healthy relationship, it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Everyone needs someone, but no one needs an abuser. Dating violence is a serious issue that many choose to ignore until it is too late. Although love is great, it should never cover physical, mental, and sexual aggressiveness. If you or someone you know is the victim of such violence, you or they should get out immediately and seek help.