Monthly Archives: May 2013

Are you being abused?

Scenario A: Mario and Felicia have been dating for a while. Mario and Felicia have a pretty good relationship, but sometimes, like all long-term couples do, they tend to get into arguments. On one particular argument on their front porch, Mario says to Felicia, “Don’t talk to me bitch” and then walks off the porch gets into his car and drives home. This doesn’t surprise Felicia, because Mario often calls her names when he’s angry. He also openly criticizes her in public sometimes about her weight and the way she looks. A month ago, he started telling everyone that Felicia should be renamed ‘Fatso’ because of how much she weighed. He was joking, of course.

Scenario B: Mario really wants to go out with Candice because he knows that she has a reputation for being….well, let’s just say she has a reputation. He finally gets her to agree to go to dinner and they go to a restaurant and have a good time.  After dinner, Mario walks Candice to her dorm room. Upon seeing that her roommates have gone somewhere, Candice invites Mario inside and the two begin making out. However, as things get hot and heated, Candice hesitates and finally tells Mario to stop. However, he does not.

Scenario C: Kathy and Peter have been going out for a while. Peter really seems to like Kathy and is really protective of her. In fact, Peter doesn’t want Kathy to hang out with his friends, claiming that her friends are all “jerks.” Peter also tries to get Kathy to stop being involved in cheerleading, saying that he doesn’t want other guys to see her in ‘short skirts.’ Peter sometimes criticizes Kathy’s clothes for being ‘too revealing’, choosing instead to buy or pick out clothes for her. Furthermore, Peter feels jealous when Kathy spends time with her parents, and encourages her to spend less time with them and more time with him.

Quiz Question:

Which of these three scenarios describe abuse or an abusive situation?

Answer:

All 3. Yep, all three. Relationship abuse isn’t confined to just physical abuse. Relationship abuse can be verbal, as was the case with Mario and Felicia, it can be sexual, as was the case with Mario and Candice, and it can also involve isolation as is the case with Kathy and Peter.

Abuse describes a behavior that brings physical or emotional harm to another person. Relationship abuse, which is described in scenarios A and C, involve a pattern of behavior that emotionally or physically harms a person’s partner. Sexual abuse, or ‘date rape’, as was described in Scenario B, occurs any time a partner does not comply with his or her partner’s wishes to end or to not proceed with sexual intercourse.

So how do we spot abuse?

Abuse can be hard to spot. Michael Powers at HeartTouchers.com notes that one way to know whether or not you are being abused or are in an unhealthy relationship is to simply trust your gut. Relationships are supposed to be something that enriches our lives and make us happy—most of the time. If they are not, then something might be wrong. Oftentimes our intuition can clue us in to patterns in our relationships. For example, if you often feel sad or down after you have spent time with your partner, then that is a sign that something is seriously wrong with the relationship. Also, if the thought of spending time with your partner fills you with a feeling of fear and/or dread, then that’s another sign that everything is not right in your relationship.[1] Furthermore, if you find that your friends and family are in your ear telling you that you’ve changed (and not for the better) since you’ve gotten into your new relationship, or if the relationship is keeping you from them,  then those are HUGE red flags that something is seriously off with your relationship. Finally, if you feel less pretty or smart after you’ve entered into a relationship than you did before your relationship happened, that’s another big sign that you might be being abused. Your partner should make you feel like the awesome person that you are. If he or she does not do this, then you probably need to end that relationship.

What do I do if I or someone I know is being abused?

Getting out of abusive relationship can be easier said than done. It can even be dangerous. In the U.S. around four people are murdered by their intimate partners each day.[2] That’s nothing to play with. Also scary is the fact that the most dangerous time to be in an abusive relationship is when someone is trying to leave the relationship. Trying to leave might actually increase your chances of being physically injured by your partner…or worse.

So what’s a girl to do? The first thing to do if you think you are being abused is to check yourself. Check your gut, check with your friends and family (the one’s you trust) and check with a teacher, minister or counselor that you trust. Tell these people what is going on. Abuse is not something that you should keep to yourself. And, if one person that you go to doesn’t listen, then go to someone else. Don’t give up and don’t stop. And don’t let yourself feel guilty about any abuse or think you ‘deserved it’. No one, and I mean no one, deserves to be treated badly.

If there’s no one around you who you can trust to help, call the National Abuse Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 1-866-331-9474. If you have questions about the health of your or a friend’s relationship or just need support, you can also text loveis to 77054. Someone will text you back to prompt you to ask your question. Also, if you feel that you or someone you love is in danger, you can visit http://www.loveisrespect.org to get more information and help with making a safety plan.

Abuse is serious, scary and can be soul-crushing. But the good news is that you can get help. You don’t have to stay in a relationship that makes you feel like you are less. Because you are not less. You are so much more.

IMPORTANT NOTE: All of our examples were of heterosexual couples, where the guy was the abuser and the girl was the one being abused. Although this is the most common relationship abuse scenario, this is not always the case. There are numerous instances of girls abusing guys, and relationship abuse can also occur in homosexual relationships. If you believe that you are an abuser, it is also important for you to seek help, from an adult that you trust.

For more information, check out:

1. Love is Respect

2.Stop Relationship Abuse

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