By Gina Guevara
The concept of love may appeal to almost everyone since it is known to be a beautiful feeling. Everyone seeks whoever they feel attracted to whether it is for a long-term or short-term relationship. However, many times relationships do not work out. People may start getting jealous or one person can become abusive of another. There have been various reported incidents of teenagers getting hit by a partner.
Teen violence refers to abusive behaviors from one person to another that may start at a young age and continue to young adulthood. Many times teenagers within the ages of 15 to 19, or even 20 years old, start forming their first relationships and are unsure of what is a healthy relationship. For that reason, many allow harmful behaviors that will “help” them keep their partner without noticing the consequences. Verbal, physical, and emotional abuse affects a person more than many could possibly imagine. Even the person suffering from the abuse may not notice the harm it is causing them. Research conducted has shown different issues girls face as a consequence of the abuse; however, many do not notice this until after the relationship.
Teen dating violence affects a girls’ self-esteem, making it even more difficult to have the courage to tell someone about the abuse and end the relationship. Thus, this also affects them by having health or negative body image, rape or gang violence, being bullied, dropping out of school, and committing suicide.
Over 35% of girls have proven to have a health or negative body image, including eating disorders, due to an abusive relationship. Other 27% have reported rape, abuse, or gang violence; 24% report being bullied or peer pressured in their school; 8% have dropped out of school or have other factors that prevent them from an education, and 4% who have committed suicide have also been due to an unhealthy or abusive relationship. Additionally, many girls have faced other challenges such as depression and cultural expectations.
Cultural expectations include the belief that other people are the same as their current or past partner. This leads to low self-esteem, as mentioned before, and depression. Monica Frances, for instance, is a university student who recently reported having an abusive relationship back when she was a high school student all the way to her second year of college.
Frances mentions, “I remember spending every single day with him after college and work. We could be having a great time one minute, but by the next he’d be up in my face yelling, pushing, or even spitting on me for the stupidest reason”. She then added “I thought I was in love and that’s why I accepted it, but now that I look at the consequences I feel really dumb”.
Those consequences included failing two classes, thus having to graduate a semester after expected, being upset and staying in her room almost all day without having anything to eat. Additionally, she stated losing many opportunities like going out of town and to parties or clubs with her family and friends.
Another woman, Gloria Lautner, stated that between ages 17 all the way to 19 she had been dating a “possessive, controlling, and bad tempered” boy who all of a sudden mistreated her. Lautner says, “I didn’t know who to talk to…I thought everyone was going to judge me and make me feel worse than what I already did”. She also mentions having thoughts of dropping out of school and working full time just to find a place to live so he would not find her. In conclusion, relationships like this can be life changing for most.
Other forms of teen dating abuse can include stalking that may cause psychological and emotional abuse. Stalking can occur through social websites and invasion of privacy as well.
Moreover, teen violence occurs everywhere and is often overlooked. It is difficult for those going through it to open up to someone else; therefore it is recommended for parents or guardians to observe their child’s behavior or mood swings once they begin a new relationship.
Some websites such as loveisrespect.org and breakthecycle.org promote breaking the silence and ending teen dating violence. Such websites have different methods of communication and the person calling, texting, or sending chats may remain anonymous if they wish.