Warning Signs: Tips to recognize signs of abuse
By Cathy Green-Miner
Listen closely…love is NOT abuse and abuse is NOT love.
This is how a girl is supposed to feel in a healthy, dating relationship: respected, valued, adored, special, happy, light-hearted, cared for and about, at-ease, excited, protected.
This is what an abusive dating relationship looks like: fear, isolation from friends and family, bruises anywhere, pain – physical and emotional, disrespectful words, name calling, unhappiness, jealousy, control, shouting, grabbing and pushing, rape, threats, misery, shame, secrets, nervousness, sadness, excuses, downplaying and obsession.
According to the National Dating Abuse Helpline, nearly 1.5 million high school students throughout the U.S. experience physical abuse from a partner in a year. Additionally, girls and young women 16-24 “experience the highest rate of intimate partner violence,” the site says.
The girl who is abused will often pretend that nothing bad is happening to her when, in fact, she is drowning in sorrow and in fear. She may even convince herself and you that she is in love with the guy.
Encourage her to seek counseling so that she can develop self-love and a confident self-esteem. Counselors are trained to guide others during life’s journeys, and they respect the privacy of others except in the case of abuse or harm to self or others.
The girl who is in an abusive dating relationship needs help. It is not time for secrets – her friends must report the abuse to her parents AND the counselor at school. It is time for adult intervention. She may be in physical danger as well as in emotional danger. Adults can navigate this situation with her.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, you can contact the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 866-331-9474. You can also text “loveis” to 77054. They are waiting to help.
For more information about teen abuse, go to http://www.loveisrespect.org/is-this-abuse/dating-violence-statistics