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Article:   Violence Escalates For Teen Girls Dating

By Janet Pfeiffer
Daily Record
Feb. 8, 2008

Are you a teen involved in a relationship that is uncomfortable or unsafe?

Are you the parent, relative or friend of that teen?

You need to know that teen dating violence and abuse is a very serious epidemic that is becoming increasingly more prevalent in our society. A dangerous and often life-threatening trend, it often goes undetected and therefore unaddressed. Every teen, and those who care, need to know the seriousness of this issue.

A recent study found that one third of all teenage girls actively an hour dating has feared for her safety. Thirty percent reported being text-messaged up to 30 times an hour by their partner wanting to know where they are, who they are with and what they are doing. One in five teens report having been hit or pushed by their partner. And twenty-five percent of girls in relationships have been pressured into sexual activity that they did not feel comfortable with.

Teen dating violence includes physical, emotional and sexual assault and harassment and is done via texting, e-mail, IM-ing or in person. This crime can leave permanent scars upon these young victims.

For all young women (and men if applicable), here are some warning signs of an abuser:

Initially, he's extremely charming, loves you instantly, and can't bear to be away from you. Gradually, he begins to want you all to himself, becoming jealous of your family and friends and begins to isolate you from them. He flies into a rage over insignificant issues, directs the assault at you, then apologizes profusely, telling you how sorry he is and that he loves you with all his heart and that it will never happen again - empty promises that never manifest. His anger is never his fault. He blames others, especially you, for his feelings and behaviors. Your self-esteem wanes. He uses anger and threats as a way of manipulating you to do and be what he wants. When he touches you, it hurts. You spend much of your time living in fear of getting him angry (or of loosing him) and apologizing when you do. You cry a lot and lie to your friends and family about what is really going on. He can go from being warm and loving to mean and hurtful in a split second and for no apparent reason. He controls every aspect of your life. You love him and are miserable at the same time.

Healthy love is warm, nurturing and based on mutual respect and trust. It supports and encourages the individuality of each party as well as their hopes and dreams. It is safe, comfortable and protective and welcomes family and friends into its circle. Do not let anyone try to convince you otherwise.

Parents, here are some warning signs that your teen might be involved in a violent relationship:

  • They are becoming withdrawn, spending more time alone;
  • They no longer socialize with friends;
  • Grades in school drop;
  • They loose interest in extra-curricular activities and family functions;
  • They become weepy and depressed;
  • You feel uncomfortable with the person they are dating;
  • They give you vague answers when you question them about their partner;
  • They wear 'inappropriate' clothing (long sleeves in hot weather), possibly to cover up bruises or they make excuses for them;
  • They are unusually defensive or angry;
  • You notice a definite change in their level of self-confidence and/or their personality;
  • They begin to dress very differently than what is their norm.

So, teen, what can you do if this profile fits you? Tell a friend or adult. Together, decide the best way to end the relationship. Be prepared for resistance and possible retaliation. Abusers need to be in control and this clearly demonstrates a loss of that to them. Use every available resource, including law enforcement officials, if necessary. Stay strong.

Abusers very rarely change. I know. I spent three years being verbally and physically abused by a man who claimed to love me. I finally realized that if I didn't leave, he was going to kill me. And my life was infinitely more important to me than he was.

February 4-8 is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness and Prevention Week. Please take heed of these words. If you or someone you know is involved in dating violence, please cut this article out and pass it on to them Intervention is a sign of caring. And this time it could save their life.

Janet Pfeiffer is a columnist for the Daily Record.

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