The violence in adolescent relationships as so often happens in relationships between adults . But it is more difficult to recognize her, because a girl in love rarely complains, being convinced that she has met the love of her life. What to do if physical or mental violence occurs in an adolescent relationship? what are the causes of this phenomenon?

Teen relationship violence is a fact

According to an American research, 1 in 3 adolescents has experienced some type of violence on a dating . As in adult relationships, in about 90 percent of cases the perpetrators of violence in an adolescent relationship are boys, although there are usually exceptions.

In the initial stage of awareness, this is usually psychological violence , which is usually a prelude to physical and sexual violence . But even if it never comes down to it, you can’t take things lightly, because psychological violence is devastating: it degrades the victim’s self-esteem, making her insecure and internally mutilated.

Mental violence: control is usually due to jealousy

The basic form of psychological violence is the control resulting from jealousy. The boy takes over the girl’s life. He controls her at every step, under the excuse that he is worried about her and that he cannot live without her, we must also emphasize that this behavior not only happens in young men, although the percentage is higher, it is also usually seen in women. women.

These are usually common situations of psychological violence in a teenage dating relationship:

“My boyfriend is too jealous. He watches me at every step, I can’t go anywhere without him. If I do something wrong, he will do his best to blame me. It is aggressive and terrible. He doesn’t want me to go to parties with him because he says I’ll meet someone and leave him. He does not allow me to talk to friends. Even being among our friends, I can’t get rid of him. It won’t leave me alone. I have tried to break up with him so many times, but he has warned me that if I leave him, he will kill himself. “

Unfortunately, one of the things that has led to this type of behavior is the myth of romantic love that is present in our culture. Literature and cinema have convinced young people that great love requires absolute sacrifice and renouncing everything.

There is no teenager in the world who does not dream of such a relationship. It’s scary, but young girls understand love that way and can often offer it all: family, friends, interests, and passions so that they can keep their boyfriend with them and feel like they are loved. Therefore, both sides of the relationship often have an internal consent to possession and control, because this is their idea of ​​love.

In the name of that love, the boy restricts the girl’s freedom and exercises power over her . And all this with the consent and support of an environment where such behavior is the norm. But eventually, what started out as “true love” turns into a prison for the girl. Out of fear of her partner’s anger, she limits her rights herself. He isolates himself from his peers and family, abandons his extracurricular activities. And the more lonely you are, the more you depend on the feelings and opinions of your partner, who may eventually become the only important person in your life.

When physical violence occurs in adolescent relationships

Physical violence is rarely sobering for a girl. Usually she starts looking to blame for her boyfriend’s behavior.

Unfortunately common situation of physical violence in a relationship between adolescents:

“A while ago he hit me. Sorry for him. After a while it happened again, and I forgave him again. Now I just have to say one wrong thing and he throws himself at me. I have to be attentive to every word. He doesn’t mistreat me much, usually I don’t even have a scratch, but he pulls me, pushes me and pulls my hair. I know I should quit, but I can’t. I love him too much. On the other hand, I have already dealt with everything. I have no voice in this relationship. He knows he can do whatever he wants, because I’ll forgive him anyway. There comes a point where I feel guilty because he hit me, and I apologize for bothering him. “

This is a constant brainwashing, where the girl naively believes that when the anger passes, her partner will be good to her again. All these stories are very similar to each other. Young people meet at a party or while on vacation, for example.

It is an intense love at first sight. They go on a date, and after a few days he assures the girl that he is the love of his life. She is convinced that her white knight has finally appeared. He is wonderful, affectionate, he gives her the tenderness that she so badly needed. He accompanies her to school, sends text messages continuously. She does not leave the phone, and all day she waits for the next signal from him.

The next stage: he begins to show anger, he is jealous of the partners of the couple, later of the friends, of his free time, interests. She gives up everything to make her boyfriend happy. She becomes his slave. He dresses how he wants, does what he asks. He justifies his outbursts of anger and hides the bruises from his family when he hits her. He endures insults and humiliations because he knows that apologies, flowers and guarantees of love will follow.

According to the 2007 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, approximately 10 percent of teens nationwide (United States) reported having been victims of physical violence at the hands of a partner in the past year. [Link]

Violence in a Teen Relationship: Warning Signs

The most obvious signs are the displays of physical violence that the adolescent tries to hide or for which she makes up any excuses. There may also be a sudden change in your behavior. You start avoiding company, give up your favorite activities, stop developing your passions.

Your style of dress, habits, and preferences change. Victims of violence may have difficulty concentrating, may be in a bad mood, may be anxious at the ringing of the telephone, and fall into depression. In some cases, the girl ceases to take care of her appearance, masks this figure with the help of an outfit, quickly loses weight or gains weight. When parents ask about her boyfriend, she defends him and justifies his behaviors.

Why does a teenager endure intimate partner violence?

Why are girls trapped in toxic relationships? For the same reason as adult women. Out of fear, in the name of a misunderstood love, out of fear of loneliness and fear of the reaction of those around her.

“My boyfriend can’t control his jealousy. He forbids me to wear cleavage. I stopped using them. The second problem I had is the skirts. I don’t wear them, but I don’t see anything wrong with them, plus he laughs at all the girls on the street who have a shorter skirt. I can’t wear high heels to school or red things, because he says it’s the color of prostitutes. I can’t put on makeup at all. He won’t let me go out with friends or go on school trips. If I do something wrong, he screams, he gets angry and I have to apologize to him. “

During adolescence, there is still no material dependence on the partner, but the emotional bond is extremely strong. Having unmet needs and being indifferent, the girl is easy to manipulate, it is also easy to impose on her a relationship model with which she can easily identify. The girls say that what keeps them in a destructive relationship is a mixture of conflicting experiences.

They may experience repeated cycles of violence and suddenly return to that old intimacy they had during the fantasy phase. They return to their partners full of compassion, thanks to promises that they will get better, and often simply out of fear (when they threaten to hurt their loved ones).

This is due to beliefs such as: “my love will change him”, “he behaves like this, because in childhood nobody loved him”, “it will change, as soon as he stops drinking”. The reason for staying in such a relationship is also the fear of separation, the fear of finding another partner and the lack of support from adults who generally do not know anything about the situation.

You are the victim of a violent relationship if your boyfriend:

  • He blames you for his own problems;
  • He wants to make all the decisions for you, he tells you what to do, how you should dress and behave;
  • He wants to know where you are and what you are doing all the time (continuous SMS, calls);
  • Shows strong signs of jealousy and treats you as if you were his;
  • Is overly sensitive and overreacts to insignificant things or exaggerates minor problems;
  • Exerts pressure or force during sexual activity;
  • Expresses anger in an explosive way, for example, takes it out on you using objects (throws or destroys them);
  • He manipulates you;
  • Isolates you from your friends, family, classmates;
  • Threatens to use force against you, other people, or your pets;
  • He scolds and humiliates you;
  • Belittle your self-esteem, for example, criticizing your appearance;
  • It pushes you, it shakes you, it pulls you.

Why does a teenager use violence against his partner?

There is no definitive answer to the question of why young people use violence. The most frequently mentioned reason is jealousy stemming from insecurity and social consent for such behavior. Cultural tradition and family pressure are also strongly influencing factors.

Young men are taught (using patterns borrowed from home and through the media) that masculinity means strength, dominance, and control. Therefore, among adolescents, rigid beliefs about masculinity and femininity are widespread.

Guys want to be in control in a relationship; girls feel compelled to submit. To this is often added alcohol and drugs that strengthen aggressive behavior and at the same time serve as justification for the problems in the girl’s eyes (“he was not himself”, “he did not know what he was doing” ).

How to help your daughter?

If you know or suspect that your daughter is a victim of violence, don’t underestimate the situation. Proceed with care. Don’t start a fight, don’t make her break up with her boyfriend immediately because this can only create resistance. Try to control your emotions and speak calmly.

It’s good to ask your daughter open-ended questions like: “You look really sad lately, maybe you want to talk?”, “I noticed that your boyfriend calls you even at night, doesn’t it bother you?” . When talking to her, you can start by reading an article or information from professionals to help her see her own situation from another perspective, or discuss a movie in which a similar story is presented.

Convince your daughter that you are not her enemy, and that you are on the same team as her. Let her reveal all of her emotions (including good ones) related to her boyfriend and talk about them. If the teen still wants to stay in her destructive relationship, be sure to seek professional help. Remember that if your daughter’s boyfriend threatens to hurt her, you should always assume that he may be able to carry out this threat.

By Dr. Eric Jackson

Dr. Eric Jackson provides primary Internal Medicine care for men and women and treats patients with bone and mineral diseases, diabetes, heart conditions, and other chronic illnesses.He is a Washington University Bone Health Program physician and is a certified Bone Densitometrist. Dr. Avery is consistently recognized in "The Best Doctors in America" list.

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