On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the U.S. During one year, this equates to more than 10 million women and men, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV).
“It was verbal, mental and physical abuse for over four years,” said 35-year-old victim Barb*, the parent of a junior at King High. “I left when the attacks went to my son.”
Physical, verbal, and mental abuse doesn’t only happen to adult females and males. It happens to teens, too, often as dating abuse. Dating abuse can be an aggressive confrontation between two teens that are in a relationship.
“I had teen cases involving domestic violence where I had both young men and women that were in violent relationships,” said clinical social worker and teacher Sherrhonda Denice.
Some individuals are unaware that male teenagers can be the victim in these relationships. Many do not seek help because males are too embarrassed to tell others that their girlfriend is abusing them. For six months junior Devin* was physically abused by his girlfriend. Devin* decided enough was enough when he and his girlfriend got into an argument and she punched him in the face. He pushed her to the ground and walked away.
“My coach saw the altercation and I had no choice but to tell my parents,” said Devin*. “She constantly hit me because she knew I wouldn't hit her back.”
Dating abuse is psychological as well. The abuser may use degrading comments and shift his or her partner’s mind into thinking that there is no one better.
“He used to say ‘you think you’re going to do better than me,’” said 16-year-old victim senior Sally*.
Jealousy can play a significant part in dating abuse. The aggressor doesn’t want the victim to get attention from individuals of the opposite sex.
“It [the abuse] started when boys started looking at me and trying to talk to me more often,” said Sally*.
There are several early signs that teens can notice in a relationship that may lead to dating abuse.
“Pushing, name calling, controlling behavior, taking your cell phone, asking to check your phone are signs that you should leave the relationship,” said Denice. “I have had men and women come in with bruises and they thought it was a normal part of the relationship.”
If you or someone you know needs help, call Love is Respect at 1(866) 331-9474 or you can textloveis to 22522. For more information, go to loveisrespect.org.
*Names in this article have been changed to protect the privacy of the victims.