Love Shouldn't Hurt

Imagine this: every hour of every day, all you think about is pleasing him. You live in a constant fear of what will happen if you mess up, if you put a toe out of line. You feel like he can hear every thought in your head, see every move you make, as if he is as much a part of your mind as you are. Every decision you make from the clothes you buy to the music you listen to, even the people you talk to are based on what he thinks. Maybe, you think, if you please him, you will finally be worthy of his friendship, his ‘love’. You are constantly scared, but you do not know how to get out. You are not alone. The Journal of the American Medical Association writes that one in five girls aged 16-21 admit to being emotionally, physically, or sexually abused in a relationship. Although some schools have laws in place regarding relationship abuse education, the majority need to do more to educate teenagers on the dangers and causes of this violence and how it can be stopped.

One in ten high school students in the United States report being physically abused, while one in four report verbal, sexual, or emotional abuse each year (Teen Dating Violence). In the states of Wyoming, Arkansas, Kentucky, Georgia, and Maryland, 14.1% of relationships turn abusive. From those previously stated, only one state has a law in place regarding relationship abuse in school curriculum. Overall, only fourteen states have any law regarding relationship abuse education. In a general trend, these states have lower than 12% of relationships turning violent. In Ohio’s Tina Croucher Act, schools are required to have a written policy stating that dating abuse will not be tolerated, and have a plan in place for punishment if such a relationship occurs. This act does not require teachers to add dating violence into the curriculum, and therefore does not help the problem. Stereotypically, why would someone willing to abuse the person they are supposed to care about mind being punished by their school? Teen abuse is different, says New York Public Advocate Betsey Gotbaum, because “there are fewer options available for teens seeking help.” (Gaskell). Gotbaum is the creator of the Adopt-A-School Relationship Abuse Program in New York. The program sends private domestic violence organizations into schools to educate teens on the dangers of dating abuse. However, only twenty out of four hundred and forty schools are participating. Furthermore, many women’s shelters will not allow women entrance without an order from a judge, and only seventeen states allow abused minors to apply for such permits. This needs to change, immediately.

Shockingly, most teens do not recognize that they are being abused, and even when they do, most are too scared to get out. “We had a huge fight... I slapped him and he took my rings. He burned all my things from [my ex]. He won't break up with me and I can't bring myself to do it,” Said 16-year-old Megan about her 20-year-old boyfriend, Dan. Her decision not to end her relationship would prove fatal to her 2-year-old son, Nicky, who died because of Dan. Abuse is often mistaken for caring at first. The abuser’s actions will be charming at first. They do not show their true sides at first, and then slowly start controlling every aspect of their partner’s life. It is like boiling a frog. First the water is cool, comfortable, both people feel comfortable, but sooner rather than later, the abuser ever so carefully turns up the heat, being more and more controlling, until the water’s boiling, it’s too late to get out now. A California psychologist, Jill Murray says, “The abuser might be the world’s greatest boyfriend eighty percent of the time, so the girl thinks if she twists herself into what he wants her to be, he’ll change. But it only gets worse.” A public school environment, unfortunately, can sometimes be like wood to the fire of misogyny, racism, prejudice, and violence. If school health classes and guidance counselors took more time to educate teens about the signs of dating abuse, many more people would recognize the signs and get out before it is too late.

Once teens recognize these signs, it is crucial that school staff and administrators provide proper support to recovering victims. The first step is for the victim to realize he or she is being abused, followed by a close second step: realizing that he or she deserves better than abuse. Everyone deserves better. The abused teen needs to have a trusted adult to speak with, to open up to. Some may not feel comfortable talking to a parent, in which case they may turn to a guidance counselor or teacher. If these adults are not properly trained to assess the situation, the victim will now have no one to turn to. No one should have to try to get through this abuse alone. School staff needs to be prepared to help at any moment. After all, 30% of all murdered teenage girls are killed by their boyfriends. Don’t let poorly educated students and staff be cause for a life lost.

Stricter laws about relationship abuse education could not only save teenagers from the emotional and physical pain of being abused, it could also save lives. Violence is not something to be taken lightly, it is not something to be passed over, and it is not something that can be pushed aside in the need for budget cuts. Studies show that only half of all ‘tweens’ ages 11-14 recognize the signs of an abusive relationship. The most relieving feeling in the world is the feeling of knowing that you’re free of abuse. Your head feels clear, like you can think again without the shadow of him watching your every thought, every move. All you want to do is run home, put on your favorite outfit, listen to that CD he didn’t like, and call your best friend whom you haven’t talked to in months. All you have to do is remember that you are beautiful, and no one has the right to tell you otherwise, ever. If you or someone you know is being abused, get help now. Abuse is never ok. There is always a way out.





Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

debwuzhere said...
Dec. 6, 2011 at 8:56 am
I meant to give you 4 stars...but after I tapped 1..it would not let me add or change. But nice job...I give you 4 stars.
 
bRealTime banner ad on the left side
Site Feedback