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The first time you’re in a romantic relationship as a teen can feel a little dizzying. It’s exciting and nerve-wracking all at once. There’s a reason why they describe love as feeling like you’re being swept off your feet. You may not be able to feel solid ground the first time you feel strong feelings for someone else—and have those feeling returned.
Amidst all the lovey-dovey stuff (that’s the good part), it’s also important to take a moment and make sure you’re not missing any red flags. You want your relationship to be a healthy one, based on mutual respect. If your partner is disguising control or violence as a form of love, you do not want to be in that relationship.
It is common for an abuser's behavior to not take the form of physical violence initially, and sometimes an abuser's behavior can be mistaken as flattering, affectionate or protective. You should watch for these warnings signs and explore your partner's past, since prior history involving violence, arrests and substance abuse can be a predictive indicator of trouble ahead. Also visit this article archive on how to identify abuse.
According to LoveIsRespect.org, 1.5 million high school students in the U.S. experience physical abuse from a dating partner each year. One in 10 high school students has been purposefully hit, slapped or physically hurt by a boyfriend or girlfriend. Yet only a third of teens who experienced violence from a partner ever told anyone about the abuse. Know what dating violence looks like. Break the Cycle says that these are common forms:
- Physical abuse — any type of physical force meant to cause fear or harm, such as hitting, shoving, kicking or using a weapon.
- Verbal or emotional abuse — non-physical threats such as insults, humiliation, stalking or intimidation.
- Sexual abuse — controlling or forcing sexual activity which can include rape, coercion or restricting access to birth control.
- Digital abuse — using social media to intimidate, harass or threaten a current or ex-partner. This could include cyberbullying, sexting, or stalking.
If you’re a teen experiencing dating violence, don’t wait to get help. You can reach a peer advocate 24/7 through LoveisRespect.org by clicking the “Get Help” tab or by calling 866-331-9474.
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