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Part 2 - Warning Signals: Sigsn Of (Relationship) Abuse

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By Mia Bolaris-Forget

Statistics indicate that among the one in three teens that experience abusive relationships, most are young ladies/women between the ages of 16-24. What’s more shocking however is that most adolescents are able to “justify” the situation and accept it as “normal” based on their improper and inappropriate perceptions of relationships and their role in one.

Factors That Influence Acceptance and Confidentiality of Abuse and Violence:

· Poor self image

· Lack of experience with dating and relationships

· Struggle with parental relationship and seek to assert independence

· Grandiose ideas about love and romance as glamorous.

· Peer pressure for relationships and sex

Guys and Violence:

· Asserts their masculinity and control

· Power over their partner

· Forced intimacy and love

· Offers false sense of respect and self-assurance

Girls and Violence:

· Blame themselves for difficulty in relationship.

· Abuse shows love and is romantic

· Abuse is normal (all their friends are having similar experiences)

· They will help the abusive partner change

· They feel alienated and misunderstood, plus they feel they’ll be made fun of if they “reveal their secret”

Misinformation and misinterpretation are the main reason many teens are mislead into detrimental relationships and (life) patterns. Understanding of what a healthy relationship is and is NOT is only the beginning of helping adolescents and young adults relate to themselves and each other better, make wiser, safer, choices and have loving liaisons.

Recognizing a (potentially) abusive relationship:

· Pressure to get serious or have sex

· Your partner is controlling, possessive and jealous

· Your partner exhibits love inappropriately and destructively

· You become the target of abusive behavior or jokes

· Your partner engages in illicit activities such as drinking, drugs, etc. and attributes his/her behavior to the (illegal) substance

· You are threatened with physical violence

· Your partner has a previous history of abuse or condones violence or “negative” or “hurtful” behavior

The first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one. Once you’ve identified unhealthy relationship patterns and/or identify yourself as in an abusive relationship, experts make the following recommendations:

· Speak up, not only to your partner telling him/her that you don’t appreciate the way you are being treated, but also to a trusted confidant (friend, family member, teacher, nurse, guidance counselor, or other professional). You may also consider contacting local authorities such as police or your local domestic violence center for protection and support.

· Acknowledge and accept that YOU are NOT responsible for your partner’s bad behavior nor do you “deserve” it. Also recognize that if your relationship is going to improve and the only reason you should stay in it, is if you seek outside, professional intervention and help. Your partner needs to address issues revolving around his/her actions and you need to learn how to cope and heal.

Keep in mind you are not alone. This epidemic is prevalent among young men and women. Some warning signs your friends or family members may exhibit signaling potential problems and trouble.

· Extreme alterations in personal traits, clothing, makeup, hairstyle, personality etc.

· Loss of confidence or ability to make decisions independently

· Alienation from friends and family

· Loss of academic interest and change in performance and/or grades

· Alcohol and substance use or abuse.

Issues of “domestic” violence and abuse are extremely sensitive and should be handled with caution….but most importantly they should be handled. Be inquisitive, without being confrontational, accusatory, or judgmental. And, if you suspect a potentially serious situation, make sure to voice your concerns to others and NOT try to tackle the situation on your own.

Experts also stress the importance of educating others regarding this rampant epidemic. Consider counseling programs, hotlines or other support and outreach programs.

Next: Part 3 - Dating Safely >>

Long Island Family Life & Parenting Articles > Part 2 - Warning Signals: Sigsn Of (Relationship) Abuse

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