Teens and abusive relationships


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ONE IN THREE that is the chance of you getting involved in an abusive relationship. It won't harm to read this document and get a clear view of the differences between a healthy and an abusive relationship!

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Teens and abusive relationships

  1. 1. TEENS AND ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS Most of the information contained in this document was found at http://www.teensagainstabuse.org/index.php
  2. 2. The Four Rs of Prevention Abusive Relationships: How to Avoid ThemHes cute, funny, smart, and (Gasp!) he wants to be with you. All the time! In fact, he declaredhis undying love for you before your first date. Hes totally into you. He wants to know whereyou are, who youre with, what youre wearing - every nanosecond. Who wouldnt be stoked?So he does a few tiny annoying things, like continuously expressing his disapproval of the fewextra pounds your hips have acquired. Or he drives recklessly because some guy talked to youat a party. Or he shoves you a little ("Just fooling around!"). And when he says hell kill himselfif you ever leave him, it doesnt sound so romantic - kind of creeps you out. But those justslightly weird things pale next to the fact that youre in looooove. Theyre really nothing, right?Research has shown that 36 to 50 percent of American women will be abused in their lifetime.(Women and girls sometimes abuse men and boys, but nine out of 10 victims are girls orwomen).People dont suddenly turn into abusers when they become adults. Its in their teen datingrelationships. And violence doesnt always begin with a black eye. It can start small and getbigger. Much bigger. Big enough to send a victim to the hospital or the morgue. In fact, 42percent of murdered women are killed by their partner (or former partner).The beginning of the school year is a great time for adults to review their teens understandingof the Four R’s of preventing sexual abuse — Rules, Read, Respect, and Responsibility —.Prevention promotes healthy behaviors rather than waiting to punish violations, before there’sany need for a cure. The Four R’s of PreventionRules (noun)Principles set forth to guide behavior or action. Ex. Everyone’s safer when everyone knows andis clear about the rules for what’s considered acceptable behavior.Respect (noun)To show consideration or thoughtfulness in relation to somebody. Ex. Support others withrespect to live up to the generally accepted rules and expectations for positive interactions, allthe time.Read (verb)To interpret the information conveyed by movements, signs, or signals; an understanding ofsomething by experience or intuitive means. Ex: Regularly read what’s going on around youand trust your instincts to stay aware of concerning behaviors.
  3. 3. Responsibility (noun)The state, fact, or position of being accountable to somebody or for something. Ex.Responsibility for keeping kids safe belongs to every adult in the community, every day.Rules: With the beginning of the school year, teachers, coaches, other kid’s parents, evenpopular students are assuming new roles of influence or authority over our teens. Clear, sharedguidelines — the rules — about what kids should expect from these relationships let everyoneknow what’s acceptable and what’s considered questionable, long before there’s a problem.Respect: This is the cornerstone of sexual abuse prevention — both as a way to define whatmakes behavior acceptable and as an essential communication tool when concerns arise.Respectful behavior is the opposite of abusive behavior.Reading: Regularly “reading” the situations where kids play, learn, and work is an importantpart of prevention. To create sexually safe environments, learn to read and redirect potentiallyharmful behavior — like ignoring a kid’s limits around hugs, kisses or tickling — before they areharmed. Remember, the focus is prevention, not cure. Signs or signals that someone isstruggling to control his or her impulses are often visible long before any sexually harmfulactions.Responsibility: Kids have the right to count on those with authority or influence to stay withinthe bounds of their particular roles: to take responsibility to follow and enforce the expectedrules. Whether the lesson is math or religion, soccer or swimming, successful learning demandsa level of openness and intimacy. Good teachers, coaches and others inspire kids to overcomechallenges with imagination, creativity, and humor.But over time, some may consciously or unconsciously begin to ignore or gradually change theterms of the relationship, using things like secret understandings, suggestive jokes, or belittlingother authority figures to engage kids. Even when there is no harmful intention, regularlybreaking the expected rules can leave everyone guessing about what’s okay and createopenings to veer off from healthy behaviors.And don’t forget — older siblings, star athletes, popular students and other kids may need helpmanaging their influence over other children. As they mature, young people increasingly look topeers for cues about rules, often leading to confusion or misinformation. But the ultimateresponsibility to provide guidance about safe relationships lies with the adults. Despite whatthey may say, kids depend on it.•Decide on the rules. Talk with friends about what are appropriate rules for those in differentroles of authority or influence. Then make your expectations clear to anyone influencing kids.•Practice “reading” your teens’ relationships. Stay aware of the signs or patterns of change.Honor your instincts. Then speak up. Ask questions. Talk through your concerns with others.•Be a role model of respect. Insist that others act respectfully toward you. Stay aware of howyour actions affect others. Use firm, respectful language to insist that others honor the rules.•Embrace responsibility. Be accountable. Start one conversation everyday with a friend orfamily member about how to fulfill adults’ responsibility to keep children safe.Kids shouldn’t have the responsibility to recognize and challenge unsafe behaviors. A wholecommunity of responsible adults, reading behaviors, respectfully supporting kids and otheradults to understand and follow the rules—that’s the best way to prevent sexual abuse. Ourkids are counting on us. And after all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
  4. 4. UNDERSTANDING DATING ABUSETEAR defines dating abuse as:"When one person uses a pattern of violent behavior through means of verbal, physical orsexual intimidation to gain power and control of their partner."Let’s face it: Understanding any relationship is tough whether it’s healthy or abusive! The ideaof someone being controlled by his or her partner is not easy to understand.Let’s start with the basics of a relationship. The basics of a relationship, healthy or unhealthy,are to work as a support system for one another, to gain comfort from one another, and tokeep each other happy. Love is about bringing out the best in each other.The difference between healthy and abusive relationships is that in healthy relationships, thecouple works towards the relationship equally. Healthy relationships consist of a system ofchecks and balances combined with equality, individuality, and compromise. In an abusiverelationship one partner takes advantage of these goals and uses them against their partner asa way to manipulate them into doing what they want. Usually there is little compromise, forcedinequality, and your individuality is taken from you.Abusers often use excuses such as, "If you love me you would..." or "You have to makesacrifices for a relationship," or "It would really make me happy if you wouldn’t..." Using thesephrases doesnt come across as demanding; and therefore can be hard to distinguish as whatthey really are: a way to take advantage of someone. It is understandable that one partnerwould try to please the other in an effort to accomplish a stable relationship. So where is theline of what is abusive and what isn’t?The line should be drawn with what it is that is being requested. Is it a limitation of freedom? Isit a change of personality or dress? If your partner is asking you to do something against yourwill, or to change who you are, then this could be a sign of an abusive relationship. Look forthese and other warning signs.No relationship starts off abusive. No relationship is first based on violent behavior; it is firstfilled with love and affection. In the beginning of many unhealthy relationships, the abusercomes on very strong and loving to their partner, they show all the attention and acceptance
  5. 5. that their partner desires. The affection and attention soon becomes excessive and obsessive,which is unhealthy.Like the relationship, the abuser is not always bad. In fact, the abuser uses the good aspects ofthe relationship to pull the victim back in - which usually succeeds. You would never startdating someone if they were abusive from the start. It’s only after a period of time, after thevictim has become attached to the abuser, that the abuse actually begins.Once the abuse starts it escalates with time. It can start with small requests, such assuggestions on a victims clothing and can lead to yelling or threats. Many people think ofdating abuse as only physical, when in reality, physical abuse is the last tactic used to gainpower and control. The abuser will use put-downs, mind games, constant threats, incessantphone calls, and preposterous accusations of cheating, and on; in order to lower the self-esteem of the victim. Abuse also involves manipulation. The victim may start to feel like theyaren’t good enough for their partner or may feel discouraged that their efforts to please theirpartner do not work. The abuse worsens as the victim’s self-esteem lowers. The victim, whofears causing a fight and aims to please their partner, will give in to the abusers demands alittle bit at a time.Victims may stay in abusive relationship because they......feel responsible...think that jealousy and possessiveness is a sign of love...may not realize they are being abused...have no one to go to...are inexperienced with dating relationships...feel pressured to be in a relationship...have a lowered self-esteem...don’t want to think the person they love is hurting them...may believe the abuse is their fault...hope that their partner will stop being abusive...believe they are in love...are not ready to leave their partnerAbusers may abuse their partners because they......feel like they have the right to control their partner...feel like they may lose respect if they don’t have control...believe that aggression solves problems...think they have processional rights over their partner...are peer pressured to act violently...may have learned it at home...are influenced by violence in the media, society, and peers...have an aggressive personality...feel the need to be in controlEven though an abuser may have an excuse for his or her abusive behavior, ABUSE ISINEXCUSABLE.
  6. 6. THE POWER AND CONTROL WHEEL The power and control wheel is a visual display of different types of abuse that occur in abusive relationships.It includes: Verbal Abuse, Emotional Abuse, Destruction of Personal Property, Intimidation,Restriction of Freedom, Sexual Abuse, Abuse of Authority, and Physical Abuse. The Power andControl wheel gives examples of the types of abuse listed above. The abuse is based on onepartner’s need for having power and control over the other.Verbal Abuse: Any verbal attempt to lower partners self worthDestruction of Personal Property: Any attempt to destroy or alter a personal belongingsIntimidation: Any attempt to use looks, actions, tones, or expressions to scare your partnerRestriction of Freedom: Any attempt to limit partners free willAbuse of Authority: Any attempt to use authority to control partnerSexual Abuse: Any unwanted sexual advance to partnerPhysical Abuse: Any attempt to cause bodily harm to your partnerEmotional Abuse: Any attempt to manipulate partners thoughts or feelings
  7. 7. THE CYCLE OF ABUSEPredators do indeed test or “groom” their victims. The intentionally violate boundaries in smallways and wait to see your reaction. Then they up the ante. An example of this could be assimple as insisting on eating pizza on a date if you have expressed not liking it.They come on really strong, really quickly. This can be especially hard to spot because it is thestuff of romantic movie fantasies. It can also be flattering to have someone profess immediatelove. You are definitely special and lovable, but someone who met you 5 minutes ago has noway to know that yet. Be suspicious of the motives of anyone trying to “sweep you off yourfeet”. Their true motive may be manipulation.Soon after the heavy romancing, or sometimes alternating with, predators also mess with yourself-esteem. They criticize you, your activities, you friends and family, again often startingsmall and then escalating. This serves to make you doubt yourself (maybe more than you doalready) your choices, and to isolate you from support systems.So what can you do to better prepare yourself to pick up on these early warning signs? InRelationships after Severe Trauma: Making Healthy Choices I suggested the following:1.Avoid going to extremes. Neither isolation or premature, instant attachment are healthy foryou. Learn to share of yourself with people in your life gradually, over time.2.Learn to hear and pay attention to your “inner voice”. This could be your intuition, your gutsense of something feeling not quite right with another person. This could also be the voices ofother parts of you. Do not discount what they have to say without exploring it. Yes, some partsmay have the job of warning you away from anyone, but there may be valid reason forconcerns about an individual in your life.3.Get to know yourselves. Develop relationships with other parts of yourself. Learn tocommunicate with each other. Share information about people you are meeting, developingfriendships or intimate relationships with.4.Do you already have someone in your life you trust? A friend? A therapist? Use them as asounding board or reality check. Share what concerns you. Listen to feedback, especially if youtend to “forget” things that concerned you regarding the new person’s behavior.5.Remember that trust is something that is earned. Trust is built in relationships byexperiencing each other over time. Pay attention to whether what others say and do matchesup (or does not), look for consistency over time. Let yourself evaluate whether the relationshipis mutual or one sided: do you each get a chance to talk, receive support and attention or doesit seem to flow in one direction mostly?6.Learn how to sort out whether your reactions are present- or past-based. Are you angrybecause someone has violated your boundaries now or are you reminded of past experiences?Sometimes it is both!In addition, I’d like to add:Healthy people let you say no. They respect (and want to know!) your opinions andpreferences. Your job is to get in touch with what you think and feel and learn to express it.Learn that “No” is a complete sentence.Practice it.A lot.
  8. 8. The Cycle of Abuse is a visual of a continual pattern that most abusive relationships follow1) The cycle starts with the green stage, which is exemplified as being a state when bothpartners are happy to be in a relationship, at this point the relationship is loving and enjoyable.2) The next stage is the yellow stage in which tension is building within the relationship. Thecouple may be getting into small arguments, and the abuser may become frustrated with theirpartner. The victim does their best to reason with the abuser, calm the abuser, and stays awayfrom their friends and family to try and work on the relationship. This is the same stage wherethe abuser is nitpicking at the victim. They are yelling, screaming, threatening and blameseverything on the victim. This is also the period where the abuser may act sullen andwithdrawal affection from the victim. This phase lasts the longest it could last from days, toweeks, months, or even years.3) The last stage is the red stage. This stage is usually the shortest stage and the mostharmful. This stage is based on one specific incident that leads to an explosion of anger. Theabuser may sexually, physically, psychologically or verbally harm their partner. Some abusersmay use a weapon against the victim, pull their hair, and publicly humiliate the victim. This isthe time when the victim may call the police, fight back and leave the relationship.4) The abuser quickly defaults into the green stage again to make up for their behavior. Thisis when the abuser will bring flowers, declare their love for the victim, say they are sorry, andmay even enter counseling. During this time the abuser will blame outside forces for theabuse, say they are stressed and makes empty promises that things will change. The victim atthis time will end all legal procedures against the abuser, go back to the relationship, agrees towork things out and feels hopeful that things will change.Once the cycle is in place it becomes difficult to break. Visually, the cycle shows the differentstages and the roles that the abuser and victim take in each stage; it also visualizes the lengthof time of each stage. The cycle of abuse is based around denial, because when the bothparties deny the abuse, there is no way to stop the pattern.
  9. 9. AM I IN AN ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIP?What is a Healthy Relationship?Ask yourself these questions about your relationship: • Does each partner respect the others opinions, even when they are different? • Does each partner share equally in making decisions about how you will spend your time together and about other issues? • Does each partner encourage the other to have friends and interests outside the relationship? • Are both partners willing to talk openly and honestly about problems in the relationship, and willing to work together to resolve conflicts? • Are both partners willing to accept responsibility for their behavior when something hurtful is said or done? • Does each partner respect the limits and boundaries set by the other?These are just a few aspects of a healthy relationship: respect, trust, support, communication,and equality. Healthy relationships are a partnership between two people. Most importantly,there is no fear of violence.Does your partner...o Have a short temper? Have severe mood swings or frequent bad moods?o Act very jealous? Maybe think everybody around WANTS you?o Yell, get aggressive or abusive toward inanimate objects or animals?o Use or own weapons or have a history of violence and fighting?o Exaggerate fights?o Brag about mistreating other people?o Disrespect their parents or generally treat them badly?o Dislike your parents, relatives and friends?o Try to limit who you talk to? - Pick your friends?o Make you tell him/her where you are going and who you are with?o Seem jealous and possessive about the time you spend with others?o Force you to choose between being with the mor with your friends or family?o Constantly check up on you and ask where you are and what you adre doing?o Tell you when you have to be home?o Want you to limit your other activities so you can spend more time together?o Keep you from getting a job?o Take up most of your time?o Declare his love immediately, maybe even the First time you met? (This is the number one sign of a potentially battering relationship.)
  10. 10. o Repeatedly tell you he/her cannot live without you?o Tell or suggest what you should wear?o Take or controll your money?o Accuse you of planning to break up with the or threaten to break up with you?o Threaten to hurt themselves (or you, or others) if you break up?o Threaten to spread gossip about you if you break up?o Blame past bad relationships on everything or everybody else instead of accepting any of the responsibiliy?o Blame you for all their problems? – Lash out or blame you for having a bad day?o Blow minor disagreements or issues way out of proportion?o Believe men should be in control and women should do what they’re told?o Put you down?o Humiliate you and belittle your opinions?o Insult you, criticise you, especially in front of others? or play the perfect gentleman in public, but do these things in private?o Treat you like property rather than a person they value?o Break or hit things to intimidate you?o Call you names, kick, hit, pinch, push or spank you in anger?o Hurt you physically or throw things at you?o Get angry when you disagree with them?o Want your relationship to get too serious too quickly and refuse to take “no” for an answer?o Pressure you to engage in sexual activity that you feel uncomfortable with?o Make you feel like you cant say no to sexual activity?o Emotionally blackmail you? (e.g.: “if you really loved me, you would …”o Embarrass you in front of others?o Abuses drugs or alcohol and pressure you to take them also, even if you don’t want to?If you answered yes to five or more of these questions you might want to consider talking tosomeone you trust about your relationship.Notice that being hit or physically abused is only one sign of an abusive relationship. You can bein an abusive relationship without ever being hit. Abusive partners are self-centred, immature,manipulative, cant appreciate the views or needs of others, shift blame onto others, dont takeresponsibility for the bad things they do or say, are possessive and treat people like theirproperty, and put others down to feel good about themselves. They are disrespectful and mayhave problems keeping their emotions under control.
  11. 11. Are any of these things true of you?o your weight, appearance or grades have changed dramatically since you started seeing this persono you worry about how they will react to things you say or doo you feel that your needs and desires come secondo you think twice about expressing your own thoughts or feelingso you worry you might make the "wrong" decision about what you wear, where you go and who with hang out witho your family or friends warn you about this person or worry about your safetyo you are frightened of this person, maybe not before but latelyIf you answered "yes" to even one of these signs, talk with someone for advice.Bottom line: If youre uncomfortable with your relationship, somethings wrong. Mind yourinstincts.Be realistic - dont expect your mate to change. Dont believe him when he tells you the way heacts is your fault.
  12. 12. ESCAPING BAD RELATIONSHIPSScenario: Youre alone with your guy and things are going from bad to worse in a red-hothurry. Youre terrified. What do you do? Get out safely! Do whatever it takes to survive untilyou can make your move.Dont abruptly break off with him. Dont threaten to break up. Plan ahead. Talk to someone youtrust or call the Domestic Violence Hotline.Battering is the greatest cause of injury to women - more than car accidents, muggings, andrapes combined.Find someone who makes you feel good about yourself. Dont become a statistic. Enjoying yourrelationship means enjoying your life.Leaving an abusive relationship is not as easy as it may seem, for there are many stages thatone will encounter.1. The very first step is to realize that one is inside of a violent dating relationship. Althoughevery situation is different, if the victim believes that they are in an unhealthy relationship thenthey most likely are. This is when he/she should trust their instincts.2. Once the realization is there that this relationship is abusive, the victim should look towardswanting to leave. Since this is the most vulnerable time (when the victim chooses to leavebecause the abuser will get angry) victims should only contemplate leaving their relationshipwhen they are fully ready and willing to do so. The desire should also be built for the actualprocess of leaving an abusive relationship.3. The third stage is getting ready to actually leave the relationship. This is the time when thevictim should begin to build a safety net of friends and family. With family and friends by theirside it will make the process of leaving the relationship seem easier and so they know they aresurrounded by people who love them.4. The fourth step is the actual process of leaving the relationship. This step is undoubtedly thehardest of all the stages. But remember that it can be done. Also remind yourself that you arenot alone. You should be proud of yourself for making this far.
  13. 13. GETTING YOURSELF OUT First off, congratulations on wanting to leave this relationship. It takes a lot of courage and strength to want to leave, and we applaud you on making this first step. When a victim is leaving an abusive relationship, there are a few things they should remember. Although the abuser may have tried to keep you isolated from your friends and family, try to break free of that and keep communication lines open. No matter what has happened between you, your family and friends due to this relationship, does not mean that they will not be there to help you leave it all behind. Remember that they want to help you, not hurt you. It is always easier to take big steps in life when you are surrounded by a safety net of people who love you. Leaving the relationship will be hard but trust in yourself and those around you. Constantly remind yourself of the reasons why you wanted to leave in the first place and why this relationship was harmful, not helpful. During this time a rush of emotions may come to you such as sadness, loneliness and even anger, however remind yourself that these feelings are normal and that it is okay to be upset. Talk to friends, family or seekprofessional help to assist you in making sense of your feelings. Doing this will help youunderstand that the abuse was not your fault.When a victim leaves an abusive relationship, it is the most vulnerable time for them, so try tocreate a safety plan for you with friends and family. Remember: it is always better to be safethan sorry. Try keeping yourself busy with things that are important to you such as school,sports and extra-curricular activities.You will soon find out how busy and healthy your life can be once you have left the relationship!Make this time about yourself and treat yourself well. Go out with friends or see a movie withyour parents. You deserve to feel good!Watch: http://www.mtv.com/videos/jasmine-villegas/815987/didnt-mean-it.jhtml
  14. 14. DOMESTIC ABUSE INTERVENTION PROJECT 202 E. Superior St. Duluth, MN 55802 218-722-2781 www.duluth-model.org The Equality Wheel
  15. 15. DOMESTIC ABUSE INTERVENTION PROJECT 202 E. Superior St. Duluth, MN 55802 218-722-2781 www.duluth-model.orgThe Teen Power and Control Wheel
  16. 16. DOMESTIC ABUSE INTERVENTION PROJECT 202 E. Superior St. Duluth, MN 55802 218-722-2781 www.duluth-model.orgThe Power and Control Wheel
  17. 17. Teen Dating Violence• It’s never too early to discuss healthy relationships and self-respect with your teen. Help your child establish a Dating Bill of Rights and guide them through dating do’s and don’ts.• Know the signs that your teen could be in an abusive relationship. (See below)• Look past the myths and get the facts.• Understand the severity and prevalence of teen dating violence.• Encourage dialogue with your teen about dating abuse. If your teen wants to talk, let them and listen quietly.• Learn what to say if your teen approaches you about teen dating violence.• Take whatever safety measures necessary; like having friends walk your teen home, consider changing your teen’s schedule or getting the school’s assistance, if necessary.• Call PADV’s crisis line for assistance in creating a safety plan at 404-873-1766.
  18. 18. What are the signs?Sometimes these signs are a part of being a teenager but when these changes happensuddenly or without any explanation, there might be cause for concern. • Sudden changes in clothes or make-up. • Bruises, scratches or other injuries. • Failing grades, skipping class or dropping out of school activities. • Avoiding friends. • Difficulty making decisions or always relying on the decisions of others. • Sudden changes in mood or personality; becoming anxious or depressed, acting out or being secretive. • Changes in eating or sleeping habits, avoiding eye contact. • Constantly thinking or worrying about their dating partner. • Using alcohol or drugs. • Emotional outbursts and “crying fits.”Information adapted from “A Parent’s Guide to Teen Dating Violence” by Liz Claiborne Inc.Even though an abuser may have an excuse for his or her abusive behavior, ABUSE ISINEXCUSABLE.For more information on teen dating violence go to www.chooserespect.org,www.loveisnotabuse.com or to Grady Health System’s Teen Dating Violence Web site.