Being a teenager is exciting, challenging, and confusing. Dating is one of the most awesome things about being a teen. Your teen years are a time when you find your place in the world and are faced with a lot of challenges.
Although dating can be fun and exciting, it can create issues. You may have difficulty deciding if you want to date just one person or go out with lots of people.
You may feel rejected by someone you ask out and they turn you down. You may have fights with your partner. You might be bullied and abused by your partner ... you might feel hurt, or could hurt your partner if one of you decides to end the relationship. There are no simple solutions. Learning how to deal with these issues is one of the challenges of dating.
Teenagers can often misinterpret abusive and violent behaviour as a show of love. Hitting, yelling, threatening, name-calling, and using and hurting you sexually isn't love!
Here are a few of the warning signs to help parents and teens recognise abuse in a dating relationship:
Does your boyfriend or girlfriend . . .
- monopolise your time and attention, and prevent you from hanging out with friends and family?
- check up on you, make you check in with them, go through your cellphone?
- act extremely jealous or possessive, want to know where you’ve been and who you’ve been with, accuse you of cheating on them?
- use aggressive behaviour in other areas of their life (punches holes in walls, gets into fights)?
- hit, kick, push, shove, punch, slap, hold you down, treat you roughly?
- blame you for bringing out the worst in them, convince you it’s all your fault, blame you for how they feel or act?
- make you feel you can’t do anything right, and no one else would want you?
- tell you how to dress or how much makeup to wear, growl you for wearing your hair a certain way?
- isolate you from family and friends?
- embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends?
- have an explosive temper or dual personality?
- use drugs or alcohol excessively?
- put down your accomplishments or goals?
- use intimidation or threats to get their way?
- threaten to hurt you or somebody you care about?
- pressure you into having sex or going further than you want to?
- break things or throw stuff at you?
- make you feel there is no way out of the relationship?
- threaten suicide if you break up?
- try to keep you from leaving after a fight or leave you somewhere to teach you a lesson?
- have a history of abuse in their family?
- call you names and use verbal abuse to intimidate you?
- bring you flowers and act romantic after each violent argument and promise never to hurt you again?
A teenager may respond to these impacts of violence by experiencing:
- Anger, aggression and lashing out
- Trouble sleeping, nightmares, and chronic tiredness
- Anxiety, depression and panic
- Alcohol or drug misuse
- Self-harming behaviour
- Difficulties with school and disengaging from school
- Avoidance of social situations or avoiding home
Unhealthy or violent relationships can have severe short and long-term effects on a developing teen. For example, youth who are victims of teen dating violence are more likely to:
- Experience symptoms of depression and anxiety
- Engage in unhealthy behaviours, like using tobacco, drugs, and alcohol
- Think about suicide
- Keep a dated record of the abuse … no matter how minor it seems
- Don't meet your partner alone or let him/her in your home or car when you're alone
- Avoid being alone at school, work and on the way to and from places
- Vary your routes and times of travel to and from home, school and work
- Tell someone where you're going and when you'll be back and plan and rehearse what you'll do if your partner confronts you or becomes abusive
- Most importantly: think of your own physical safety! Reach out for help to family, friends, police, counsellors or a family violence prevention provider.
Remember, you cannot change the behaviour of another person!