Teen Dating Violence – Short on Romance

One of the recent headlines in the Italian Newspaper “La Republica” caught my eye and gave me a shudder: four teenage boys – none over the age of 15 – followed two girls out of a Naples discothÃ?¨que, then cornered and proceeded to rape them both. What four adolescents were even doing in a disco is another issue altogether, but fortunately they were caught by the police shortly after. The teens told the police they’d met the girls earlier in the evening. The girls – they emphasized – were leading them on. It wasn’t rape they said, the girls WANTED to get picked up.

The girl’s story was a little different. Sure they’d met the teens. No they weren’t interested. Said they were leaving. No they didn’t want any company.

“No” may be on of the few words that carries the same meaning in virutally any language.

How it is possible that teen dating violence has become so prevalent among today’s youth? But the facts don’t lie: Nearly one-in-three high school students have been or will be involved in an abusive relationship. And nearly forty-five percent of teenage girls between the ages of 14 and 18 know someone their own age that is or has been in an abusive relationship that resulted in being hit or beaten by a boyfriend.

It’s easy to classify teen dating violence as just physical abuse, and that is certainly part of the profile. But teen dating violence can be emotional as well as physical, and can happen to boys as well as girls.

Regardless of who you are and what your sex is, the truth of the matter is if you are a teen (or adult for that matter) no one can force you to do anything you don’t want to do. In fact, counselors say there is a fine line between “date rape” and teen dating violence, but upon closer inspection it’s easy to see that the two have a lot in common.

Date rape tends to be an isolated act. A girl goes out on a date and is forced to be sexually involved with another boy or boys. The act doesn’t have to end in sexual intercourse. It can involve fondling or even kissing. But again, if one of the parties is forced to do something she doesn’t want to by violent teens it’s a pretty good indicator of date rape.

Teen dating violence tends to be more prolonged and drawn out and is tied just as much into the emotional makeup of the relationship as the physical. Some pretty good indicators tend to be: if he/she won’t let you have friends, constantly checks up on you, is jealous or possessive, thinks that being jealous or possessive is a sign of love or romance, threatens you in private or in front of friends, uses weapons or bodily harm to make a point. The list goes on and on.

Counselors point out that teen dating violence and abuse isn’t just about hitting. It’s yelling and threatening and saying I’ll throw myself off a bridge if you leave me, its obsessive phone calling at all hours of the night, and anything else that can wear a partner down over time until they feel there is no way out, or make them feel it’s easier to “give in” that to “get out”.

It’s important – comment authorities – that if you feel you’re on the receiving end of teen dating violence speak up. There is absolutely no need to feel like a victim. Teenagers like every other segment of society; deserves respect and has a right to be treated well. Relate what happened/what is happening to someone you can trust like your parents, a friend, or a clergyman.

One of the key points is that teen dating violence relies on the partner’s feelings of insecurity to be a success. The more isolated you are from your teachers, your friends and family, the more control that boyfriend/girlfriend has over you. Another reminder about violent teens; the sooner you alert professionals to the behavior, the sooner it can be stopped. Being an emotional punching bag for your partner in the hope that you can “change him” (or her) is full of faulty logic. Violent teens tend to mature into violent adults.

Counselors and heath-care professionals advise some or all of the following: Alert your school counselor or security officer at school if you are continually feeling threatened; keep a daily log of the situations which are making you feel abused. Do not meet your partner alone if you feel threatened. And above all, do no let him or her in your home or car when you are alone.
The flip side of this discussion is if you suspect that one of your friends is on the receiving end of teen dating violence. Don’t just be a silent witness. DO SOMETHING. Most teens talk to others in their peer group about their problems. If your friend tells you he/she is being victimized, there is ALWAYS something you can do to help. The first thing to remember is you’re not “ratting” on your friend if you speak to someone on their behalf. Those same signs of abuse we mentioned earlier are going to be present whether it’s you or a friend on the receiving end.

Naples is a rough city. As beautiful as it is filled with risk. I wonder how those two victims are doing. If they were able to move on with their lives. For sure, teen dating violence isn’t just a problem in the United States, it’s a problem all over the world.

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