Teen Dating Violence This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

December 19, 2011
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Nowadays relationships are not ending with “And they lived happily ever after” like in Cinderella or Snow White. In fact, dating violence has increased 40 percent since 1999, according to the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Dating violence includes verbal and physical abuse and tends to impact those between 12 and 21 years old. While males suffer from dating violence too, females are the main victims.

Harvard University psychologist William S. Pollack found that when “adolescent boys get involved with girls, they fall into the societal model which we call ‘macho' where they need to show they are the ones in control.” Young women tend to blame themselves for boyfriends' actions, which also contributes to the male feeling in control.

The idea of men being in control has to come from somewhere, though. It all goes back to the traditional role of men being “macho.” Though there is more gender equality than ever in education and the workforce, the media continues to portray men as aggressive and women as passive.

When Chris Brown beat up Rihanna, it shocked both fans and the nation. No one expected dating violence to affect this famous couple. Some believed Rihanna started the fight and gave Brown reason to hit her, but there is a big difference between a verbal argument and throwing a punch. The Boston Public Health Commission found that 46 percent believed Rihanna was to blame, while 51 percent felt it was Brown's fault and he had no excuse for hitting her, but 44 percent claimed that fighting is a normal part of a relationship. Where has our society gone so wrong that our generation thinks physical fighting is normal? Violence is not normal or okay.

Some studies show that boys exposed to domestic violence as children are twice as likely to be violent in their relationships. Chris Brown admitted to witnessing his stepfather abuse his mother which is why it is so important for this cycle of violence to be broken.

Dating violence rarely occurs in public or in front of parents or friends, and the media and technological advances have added a new dimension of secrecy. Constant texting, rude comments online, or requests for nude pictures can be warning signs, and when controlling or unwanted behavior persists, violence may follow.

Texting enables teens to be in constant contact. Couples may think of this as a good thing, but for some relationships it can be dangerous. Though some teens believe this is simply an expression of their boyfriend's or girlfriend's love for them, when someone wants to know where you are every minute, this is not a healthy relationship.Parents are not always aware of what is happening on their child's phone or online accounts, and they may not see the change in their child's behavior. In a survey of 11- to 14-year-olds conducted by the University of California, 25 percent said they had been harassed by their partner by phone or text message.

Dating violence may begin innocently. It is sweet and even a bit silly to send text messages back and forth. As you grow bolder, you are more likely to type things that you might not say in person. You may even find yourself sexting. Cell phones and online social networking provide round-the-clock access – especially when parents are not around.

Of course, dating violence existed long before all this technology existed. All it takes is for one person to disrespect another and make improper advances because they feel like they are the one in control. Breaking the cycle of abuse can not only repair your self-respect, but it may save your life. We all deserve a relationship founded on mutual respect.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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