Never tolerate abuse....get help!
When Brian and Sarah began dating, all her friends were
jealous. Brian seemed like the perfect guy: smart, sensitive,
funny, athletic, and good-looking. For the first couple of
months, Sarah thought she had never been happier. She
started to miss her friends and family though, because she
was spending more time with Brian and less time with everyone
else. That seemed easier than dealing with Brian's endless
questions. He worried about what she was doing at every
moment of the day.
Sarah's friends became concerned when her behavior started
to change. She lost interest in stuff like swimming and music
that she used to really enjoy. She became secretive and moody.
When her friends asked Sarah if she was having trouble with
Brian, she forcefully denied that anything was wrong. What was
going on? Read this article to find out how to tell if you or a friend
is being abused and what you can do about it.
What Is Abuse?
Everyone has heard the songs about how much love can hurt.
But someone who loves you should never abuse you.
Relationships shouldn't humiliate the people involved.
Abuse can sometimes be mistaken for intense feelings of caring
or concern. Sometimes abuse can even seem flattering; think of
a friend whose boyfriend or girlfriend is insanely jealous. Maybe
you've thought, "She's so lucky! He must really care about her."
The fact is, excessive jealousy and controlling behavior are not
signs of affection at all. Love involves respect and trust; it doesn't
mean constantly worrying about the possible end of the
Abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual. Slapping, hitting, and
kicking are forms of physical abuse that can occur in both romances
Emotional abuse, like teasing, bullying, and humiliating others, can
be difficult to recognize because it doesn't leave any visible scars.
Threats, intimidation, put-downs, and betrayal are all harmful forms
of emotional abuse that can really hurt - not just during the time it's
happening, but long after, too.
It's never right to be forced into any type of sexual experience that
you don't want. This type of abuse can happen to anyone, anytime.
The first step is to realize that you have the right to be treated with
respect and not be physically or emotionally harmed by another
person. But how can you prevent becoming involved in this type of
relationship? How can you help a friend who is in an abusive
Signs That You Are Being Abused
Any type of unwanted sexual advances that make you uncomfortable
are red flags that the relationship needs to focus more on respect.
Phrases like "If you loved me, you would . . ." also should warn you of
possible abuse. A statement like this is emotional blackmail from a
person concerned about getting what they want. Trust your intuition.
If it doesn't feel right, it isn't.
There are important warning signs that you may be involved in an
abusive relationship. Abusive behaviors include:
- harming you physically in any way, including slapping,
pushing, grabbing, shaking, smacking, kicking, and
frequently humiliating you or making you feel unworthy,
for example by putting you down but telling you that
he loves you
Signs That a Friend Is Being Abused
In addition to the signs listed above, here are some signs
of abuse to look for in a friend:
- unexplained bruises, broken bones, sprains, or marks
- excessive guilt or shame for no apparent reason
- secrecy or withdrawal from friends and family
- avoidance of school or social events with excuses
that don't seem to make any sense
If a friend is being abused, the one thing she needs most is
someone to hear and believe her. Maybe she is afraid to tell
her parents because they'll make her end the relationship.
People who are abused often feel like it's their fault - that
they "asked for it" or that they don't deserve any better. But
abuse is never deserved. Your friend needs you to help her
understand that it is not her fault and she is not a bad person.
The person who abused her is at fault and needs professional
If you have a friend who is being abused, she needs your
patience, love, and understanding. She also needs you to
encourage her to get help immediately from an adult, such as
a parent or guidance counselor. Most of all, she needs you
to listen to her without judging her. It takes a lot of courage
to admit that you have been abused; let her know that she
has your full support.
How You Can Help Yourself
What should you do if you are suffering from any type of abuse?
If you can't love someone without feeling afraid, it's time to get
out of the relationship fast. You're worth being treated with
respect and you can get help.
First, make sure you're safe. A trusted adult can help you. If the
person has physically attacked you, don't wait to get medical
attention or call the police. Assault is illegal, and so is rape -
even if it's done by someone you are dating.
Avoid the tendency to isolate yourself from your friends and family.
You might feel like you have nowhere to turn, or embarrassed
about what's been going on, but this is the time when you need
support most. People like counselors, teachers, coaches, and
friends will want to help you, so let them.
Don't rely on yourself alone to get out of the situation; the people
who love and care about you can help you break away. It's
important to know that asking for help isn't a sign of weakness -
it actually shows that you have a lot of courage and are willing
to stand up for yourself.
Where to Get Help
There are many resources available to help you. (Click on the Resources
tab on this article to see a partial list.) Your local phone book will
list hundreds of crisis centers, teen help lines, and abuse hotlines.
These organizations have professionally trained staff to listen,
understand, and help.
Ending abuse and violence in teen relationships is a community effort
with plenty of people ready to help. Don't forget about those in
your neighborhood who will be willing and able to help: religious
leaders, school nurses, teachers, school counselors, doctors, and
other health professionals are all sources of support and information.
Remember, abuse has no place in love.