February usually reminds us of love--since Valentine's Day is within this month. But sometimes, teens, boys, and girls don't particularly feel love, even if they're in a relationship. February is also Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. I think it is extremely important to know when your own relationship is violent and when to know if a friend's relationship is violent. While we're still growing up, it can be hard for us to know what is love and what is not.
When I attended a huge International Convention last year for my youth group, I attended a program about teen dating violence with one of my good friends. The program was absolutely excellent and informational, and they did it in a way where teens could fully understand it. Basically, we had to follow a story of a couple with note cards and then decide why that story was a violent relationship. It really made me knowledgeable on this kind of situation and to be on the look out for myself and for my friends as well.
It may not seem like it, but violent relationships happen all around us, even though we might not know about it. Chloe Tran, a senior at Timber Creek High School and one of my very good friends, explains what she had gone through while being in an abusive relationship at such a young age. "My family, friends, and school staff helped me a lot. From the day he was put into jail, to this day, I miss and love him. He was my first love, and I'll never regret our relationship because I learned a huge lesson and I felt, what was in my opinion, true love. I haven't felt the happiness I felt when I was with him, though I have found a different type of happiness. But I will never go back to him, as much love as I have for him; I know and knew the whole time that I deserved better. But when love is involved, you believe anything can happen. There are still some things I have to get over. Although, due to a principle at my school, she's the reason why I got rid of all his clothes and all of our photos and videos. Since I still miss him from time to time, I consider myself still overcoming it, but this too shall pass eventually." Chloe is such an inspiring person to me and she always reminds me that self-love always comes first. She even got a tattoo in place of an old bruise to show the fact that she is now strong. I hope one day that she starts to speak out and help other girls going through the same kind of situation.
So, what is the difference between a violent and a healthy relationship? According to the Center For Relationship Abuse Awareness, a violent relationship is when a pattern of abusive behaviors used to maintain power over a current or former intimate partner. There all different types of abuse; emotional, financial, sexual and/or physical and can include things like threats, isolation, and intimidation. Also, abuse tends to get worse over a period of time. It is important to know these signs because most of the time, men and women in abusive relationships do not see that it is violent until something detrimental happens to them. These things do not just happen to women. Even though women are the primary victims of violent relationships, 25% of males are victims of abusive relationships. A relationship should be a healthy balance between two partners and should make you feel so extremely happy. Happy in a way that's healthy. You should be loved and respected, no matter who you are.
There are so many ways to get help. Tell a friend, tell a teacher, tell a family member. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT, despite what you think. You are a beautiful human being who deserves to be respected and loved. You deserve someone who will appreciate every square inch of you, accept and love your flaws, and makes you a happier person. Chloe also gives advice to any victim of violent relationships: "Advice for others is that I know. I know how hard it is to let someone you love go. I know how hard it is to not speak about any of the abuse when you see your family and friends, but then you realize you would lose him or her and all the bruises kind of suddenly seem okay. I know how hard it is to deal with that heartbreak of losing them. I remember I use to feel like I could not catch my breath like it was really going to be my last every time he got arrested. Know your worth please - know that even though it feels like you will not be able to move on, you will eventually! I was living with my abuser, it was so hard for me to be comfortable at home when, to this day, I see him still everywhere in my room. But I know things will heal within time. I hope to be able to be friends with him someday because, please, understand that he was my best friend. If not that's okay because I'm okay. I am still here and I can honestly say if I was with him still, I really do not know if I would still be here with my friends, family, even the one who did this article, Dana. When you or your friends/family look back on the relationship, you wonder--how did you endure the kicks, choke outs, the slaps, and objects being chucked at you? I consider myself a pretty strong girl. This relationship I had took a toll on me, I was the girl in school who was always in a long relationship. I was the girl who would always rather be in a relationship than be single. Not because I didn't love myself, but because I live a life where nothing much happens. So, having a significant other makes the days better and go by. And I'm saying this because if you think you can't get over this person, you can. I did. I never thought I would be over my abuser as much as I am now. I still have some time to heal 'this wound.' But as long as I know it will heal, then I am okay."
“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” -Steve Maraboli
To Get Help:
Teen Line Call Number: 310-855-4673
Teen Line Text Number: Text Teen to 839863
LoveIsRespect Call Number: 1-866-331-9474
LoveIsRespect Text Number: Text loveis to 22522
Chat at loveisrespect.org
The National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233