When a relationship starts, it’s wonderful to focus on how much fun it is to be falling into love or serious “like” and to obsess over every small word and look. It’s usually not until you think you really know someone that things change. It’s shattering to learn that the boy
you thought you new has a side you’ve never seen before. And it’s even worse to allow your hope and affection to keep you in danger.
Abusive relationships aren’t just for women in movies – they happen in real life and they happen far more than is ever reported. Abuse can take many forms often making you wonder if things are really as bad as they seem. The bad guy in a movie is easy to spot, but when you’re faced with a “not-so-bad” guy who professes to love you, it’s a different matter entirely. There isn’t a girl out there who would tell someone to stay in a painful relationship. Once any form of abuse is present, the relationship is over. When you suspect or know things aren’t right anymore, it’s time to get out. You can’t fix him, even if you want to.
Abuse ranges from verbal abuse such as cursing, demeaning remarks, and the like to full on sexual abuse such as rape or other forced sexual acts. If your boyfriend punches you across the face or forces you into an act you’re not interested in being a part of, you’d think it was easy to spot the abuse and even easier to walk away (and file charges.) Unfortunately, for many girls it’s not that simple.
Many women and girls stay in ugly relationships because they don’t know any better or because they don’t realize that they are in an ugly relationship. If your boyfriend is pressuring you to have sex and you keep telling him no, your position is clear. But if you wear tight clothing and dance provocatively with him at a party and later he “can’t keep his hands off you” even when you tell him no and fight back, is it your fault? You should be screaming NO!, but many girls fall for the boy’s argument.
The classic rape argument goes something like this, “You know you wanted it, you’re just being a tease. If you didn’t want it you wouldn’t have dressed/acted/talked/looked that way. You can’t say no and then look/dress/dance that way and really mean it.” If this is something you’re faced with, remind your boyfriend that no means no and run, don’t walk away from that relationship. He’s poison. Remember that even failed rape attempts should be reported to help keep other girls safe.
Other forms of abuse follow the same format. He hits you because you drive him to it. He screams at you because you made him so angry he lost control. He threatens you because he loves you so much and doesn’t want anything to happen to you. Abuse is an ugly thing woven into a pretty picture. Finding abuse isn’t always simple, and when you suspect you’re a victim or heading that way, get out of the relationship and immediately confide in a trusted adult – a parent, teacher, counselor or a friend’s parent can give you advice and point you in the right direction if legal action is required.
Some of the more typical warning signs of abuse include:
• Unexplainable injuries. You’re hurt and you can’t tell anyone why.
• Failing grades
• A difference in your appearance – losing weight, for example
• Becoming isolated and afraid to be around other friends
• Worried about making your boyfriend upset or angry
• Your boyfriend loses his temper frequently, throws thing or hits things when he’s mad
• Your boyfriend is always calling or texting you to check up on where you are and what you’re doing.
• You make excuses for your boyfriend’s behavior and apologize for him.
• Your boyfriend is extremely jealous when you talk to other boys – even if it’s totally innocent, like in groupwork.
• Your boyfriend calls you names or puts you down, especially in front of other people.