A few years ago, I interviewed a girl for Teen People magazine who was in an abusive relationship. For an entire year, she endured physical, emotional, and verbal abuse at the hands of someone who supposedly loved her. When she finally had the courage to break up with him, her boyfriend held a gun to her head and threatened to kill her and himself.
Fortunately, this story did not end tragically. The girl’s mom walked into the room, saw the situation and was able to talk her daughter’s boyfriend “off the ledge” and no one got hurt. But as I was interviewing the girl I couldn’t help but wonder why, despite all of the signs that she was in an abusive relationship, she stayed with this loser. “I was in love,” she told me. “And I didn’t want my parents to make me stop seeing him.” Plus every time he treated her badly, he’d make up for it by giving her a present and promising that he’d never act like that again. Which made it much harder for her to leave him.
When you’re in an abusive relationship, it can be hard to see a way out. You might be scared that your boyfriend or girlfriend will harm you if you leave break up with them or you may not think you deserve any better. Abusers have a way of making their victims feel like they’re worthless and are somehow doing something to provoke such violent behavior. But physical, verbal, or emotional abuse is NEVER a sign of a healthy relationship. The moment your boyfriend or girlfriend physically attacks you, verbally puts you down in front of others, or tries to control you in any way, things have nowhere to go but down. Someone who truly loves you would never put you in that situation.
Do you think you might be in an abusive relationship? Answer the following questions honestly:
- Does your boyfriend/girlfriend tell you how to dress or who to hang out with?
- Do they get upset when you want to spend time with a friend and not with them?
- Have they ever hit, shoved, or pushed you?
- Have they ever forced you to do something sexually that you aren’t comfortable with?
- Do they put you down in front of others?
- Do they blow up your phone wondering where you are and who you’re with?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may be in an abusive relationship. But you don’t have to stay in your situation. And if you can’t talk to your family, friends, or school counselors, there are people out there who can help you. Call the National Dating Abuse Helpline at 866-331-9474 or visit them online at loveisrespect.org. Don’t spend another second being bullied. You DO deserve better.
Funding for this project was provided by the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Grant Number: 90-FE-0024. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the United States Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.