Tomorrow is Valentine's Day and everyone wants to talk about relationships, which is great. But while we celebrate happy, healthy relationships, it's also important to talk about relationships that may seem perfect from the outside but are actually toxic. This is for everyone to read, but especially young people that are just beginning to date and searching for love.
What is dating violence?
In short, it is any controlling, aggressive, or abusive behavior within relationships.
Dating violence could look like a boy who constantly needs to know where his girlfriend is and gets mad when she's not with him. It could look like a girl who slaps her boyfriend when she's mad. (Sidenote; dating violence can and does happen in homosexual relationships as well, I am just using heterosexual examples because I am speaking from a heterosexual viewpoint, but all of these apply to all relationships).
If your boyfriend or girlfriend calls you names, invalidates your feelings, pressures or threatens you into sexual situations, controls who you hang out with or what you wear, hits or pushes you, or attempts to manipulate you by threatening to hurt themselves if you leave, that probably means he or she is abusive.
If you find yourself in that situation the best thing to do would be leave. But abuse is complicated, and many people feel they can't break up with some who is abusive, at least not immediately. If that is your situation, then find a support system. Whether that means parents, or a counselor, or calling an abuse hotline, or all of the above, you need supportive loving people around you. Your significant other could try to prevent you from having that encouragement by telling you lies about your friends, or trying to convince you that their love is all you need. That is another type of abuse that you should try to watch out for.
The most important advice I have for you is know the warning signs, and don't be afraid to get help. Call the police if there is any physical or sexual violence, and seek help from trusted adults and professionals for other forms of abuse.
You all deserve to be treated with love, respect, and compassion. I hope you never need them, but here are some resources:
https://victimsofcrime.org/help-for-crime-victims/... This link includes signs of abuse, how to help a friend in an abusive situation, how to help yourself, legal rights of victims etc
http://www.thehotline.org/?gclid=Cj0KEQiAifvEBRCVx... This includes an online hotline as well as a number to call and helpful information
http://www.loveisrespect.org/resources/dating-viol... Some general statistics and information
https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/intimatepar... More information including who is at a higher risk for being in an unhealthy relationship