Teenage dating abuse, or relationship abuse, is characterized by an imbalance of power that is maintained through intimidation, coercion and violence. Victims in abusive relationships lose self-confidence and self-esteem and withdraw from friends and family members. Abuse is often physical, but it can also be verbal and emotional - constant insults, isolation, name calling, controlling what someone wears - and it can include sexual abuse. Relationship abuse can make the victim feel fearful that something they do or say will provoke their abuser.
If you or someone you know is experiencing relationship abuse, free confidential help is available:
- Talk to a trained counselor at the YWCA Evanston/North Shore: 847-864-8445
- Call the National Teen Dating Abuse (TDA) Helpline: 1-866-331-9474 TTY: 1-866-331-8453
- Call the YWCA’s crisis line anytime, day or night: local: 847-864-8780 toll-free: 877-718-1868
- Learn more on the National TDA Helpline website: www.loveisrespect.org
what we know about relationship abuse:
- 1 in 5 teens who have been in a serious relationship report being hit, slapped or pushed by a partner.
- 1 in 3 girls who have been in a serious relationship say they’ve been concerned about being physically hurt by their partner.
- Fed by a commerical music culture that often embraces aggressive, physical and misogynistic masculinity, many teens and young adults consider abuse normal.
- Girls often minimize abusive behavior because they are fearful that if they speak out, the boy’s future will be destroyed.
- Adolescent relationships may be particularly prone to violence because of the dependency that partners have on each other for social acceptance and self-esteem.
- Abuse usually begins when people are already in a relationship. Escalating in frequency and severity, abusive incidents may be followed by periods of affection and intimacy. The pattern that evolves, described as a cycle of violence, can be extremely difficult to break.
- Girls can and do act violently toward boys, but females assaulted by male partners represent the vast majority of victims of dating violence.
- Teenage relationship abuse occurs across all lines of race, socioeconomic status, religion, sexual orientation, disability and other individual differences and is present in urban, suburban and rural communities.
- Teens often don’t feel comfortable talking to parents or friends because they get frustrated and often just want them to break up with their boyfriend or girlfriend. Talking to a teacher or a counselor may feel safer.
- warning signs of an abusive relationship
You may be in an unsafe relationship if your partner:
- Blames you for his/her problems or for the hurtful things they say or do
- Tries to control your behavior - where you go, who you spend time with, what you wear or what you do
- Criticizes you frequently - your appearance, intelligence, ability to make decisions
- Humiliates you in public
- Texts, calls or IMs you excessively
- Feels he/she owns you and has certain rights over you
- Is extremely jealous of your friends and family; accuses you of being unfaithful when you interact with people of the opposite sex
- Isolates you - doesn’t allow you to see your friends or family; needs to know where you are all the time; wants you to spend all your time together
- Angers easily, making it important for you to keep him/her from getting angry
- Believes in definite male-female roles
- Makes you afraid of what he/she will do if you end the relationship
- Threatens you, makes you afraid of him/her
- Says he/she can’t live without you
Where to turn for help
The YWCA Evanston/North Shore offers the following relationship abuse education and support resources to the community:
Violence Prevention Programs: School-based support and educational groups for students
Education and Outreach: Educational resources and workshops for teachers, parents and community organizations
Counseling and Support: Service provided on a group and individual basis for young adults and/or parents
To access any of these resources, contact the YWCA at 847-864-8445.