The month of February is associated with love. What better way to introduce to our young teens the importance of a healthy relationship!!! According to Healthfinder.gov, “about 1 in 3 teens who have been on a date have also been physically or sexually abused by a boyfriend or girlfriend in the last year“. With that being said, it is very important to reach our young adults at an early age concerning abuse and unhealthy relationships. As an educator, I have witnessed a plethora of teenage relationships that were either abusive and/or unhealthy. Even when parents, teachers, and/or the administration tried to intervene; the teen couple was too far gone into the relationship to even consider leaving the abusive partner. But the questions that pondered in my mind were:
“How did this young relationship get like this?”,
“Why do they think this is okay?”,
“Where is all of this anger coming from?”,
and “Who showed them that this is how you should treat someone you care about… Let alone be treated this way?”
Sometimes I wonder if the young abuser witnessed abuse or was abused. What about the way abuse is being portrayed within the entertainment industry? Is this a “learned” behavior from a parent that has raised their child to become a violent person?
It’s bad enough that adults have endured the various type of abuse, but imagine a teenager who has not reached the maturity level to understand the detrimental scars that will forever be a part of their lives? Being abused in any form is not okay. Here are just a few warning signs our young adults need to be aware of BEFORE going on a date with someone.
- If his/her reputation has been violent/abusive/dangerous
- If he/she already has a temper or anger easily
- If he/she is disrespectful to others (peers and adults)
- If he/she gets upset because you decline any of their gestures or suggestions
- If he/she has a history of trouble, behavior issues that can turn violent, or inflict pain on others without feeling any empathy you need to stay away from him/her.
Now if the person didn’t exhibit these red flags at the time and you become a couple; you need to be cautious and aware of these warning signs when dating someone:
- If he/she has a habit of checking your cell phone, social media pages, or personal belongings.
- He/She exhibit negativity. He/She view the world and everyone in it as a waste of space. They are very insecure about others or things that may interest you; therefore they will find something negative to say about it.
- He/She is a jealous and possessive person. They speak ill of others/friends in order to keep you only with them. They don’t want you hanging with your friends any longer. Your family members are also targets of the isolation and jealousy.
- He/She begins to force sex or make you feel like you are supposed to give them sex whenever they want it. You become their possession.
- He/She is a compulsive liar. He/She has a habit of making up stories or accusing you of doing things that he/she know isn’t true.
- He/She portray two different lives which you are aware of but do not speak about because of fear of consequences.
- He/She begins to stalk you by excessive text messages, calls, popping up, and/or on your social media
- He/She actually threatens you mentally, verbally, or physically
If you find yourself in a relationship that isn’t safe or abusive; you should tell someone!!! To start, it should definitely be your parents!!! If you cannot tell your parents; then speak to an adult/relative that can help you become safe again. Remember the adults can handle the situation better than you can alone.
Parents need to also be aware of their child’s relationships. Whether your child is twelve or eighteen; please watch out for some of the key warning signs that your child may be in danger:
- Sudden mood swings/change. They aren’t their usual self
- Tries to isolate you when it deals with his/her mate
- Change in attitude concerning relationships
- Becomes irritated suddenly when asked questions about his/her relationship
- Wear clothing that may be too hot in the spring/summer. This may be either he/she is hiding bruises or their mate is disapproving of what he/she is wearing.
- Suddenly becoming anti-social
- Not hanging with his/her usual friends
- Suddenly disobeying rules or sneaking out with mate after you have discussed this matter with them
As a parent, you should check your child’s social media and cell-phone to make sure there is nothing dangerous or abusive going on. Too many times our teenagers are going through a battle at school or on social media pertaining to their mates that don’t occur at home. Even if you think your child doesn’t have a mate but exhibits these behaviors; you should check to make sure everything is okay. Our teenagers deserve to be loved correctly. They also should be able to love themselves enough to know that love never hurts.