When we think about relationship violence we often limit the population we assume to be affected as married adults. However, with so many advances in technology and pressure of early relationships, we are finding that more and more of our youth are experience relationship violence or at the very least dangerous red flags in relationships. Dating violence can range from controlling or aggressive behavior, abusive actions, manipulation or sexual coercion in a romantic relationship. It may be one or a combination of these factors. Dating violence affects both straight and homosexual relationships.
Nearly 1.5 million high school students nationwide experience physical abuse from a dating partner in a single year. Additionally, one in three adolescents in the U.S. is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. At an age where youth are being so carefully molded by experience, core values and surrounding relationships, it is vital that we open the conversation about these issues.
Examples of physical abuse may include:
- Pulling hair
Examples of sexual abuse:
- Forcing sex
- Control of contraceptives
- Coercion using guilt, shame or manipulation
- Unwanted touching, groping or kissing
Examples of controlling behaviors:
- Dictating what you wear
- Needing to be with you or talking to you all of the time
- Controlling who you hang out with and when you hang out with them
- Stalking social media
- Excessive calling or texting to find out details of where you are, what you’re doing and whom you’re with.
Examples of verbal and emotional abuse:
- Belittling or bullying
- Making threats to you or your friends and family
- Making threats to himself or herself if you do not oblige them
Today’s younger generations are exposed to technological advances that open up added variables of potential for abuse. We live in a day in age where we are expected to return a phone call, text message or email instantaneously. This makes the expectation for someone who is in an abusive relationship to become controlled and manipulated easily and more frequently. Social media has also given the public (including our partners) inside knowledge as to what we are doing, whom we are with, and where we are at all times, which can all lead to more avenues for potential abusive partners to exploit. Let’s start by establishing the issues at hand and opening our eyes to the population around us that is in need of our help. We can begin by opening communication, offering an open ear, providing resources and teaching our youth about healthy relationships.