Talking About Teen Dating Violence/Abuse…

February 2, 2011

The rise of teen dating abuse and violence is rising faster than most expect.

One major trend we have seen is the obsessiveness that young couples can have.  Here are some ideas to be aware of:

1) Low self-esteem causes different behavior

If teenagers, or anyone has low self-esteem it can cause them to be more desperate for connection or control.  Teenagers, developmentally tend to have lower self-esteem as their bodies change.  Low self-esteem can also cause couples to be more jealous and needy of each other, which can be a precursor to abuse.

2) Control can be addictive

I talk to teenagers all day long about what they are anxious about.  Many of them feel very out of control and this scares them.   Teens tend to rarely be in control; rather they are usually being controlled.  They are controlled by parents, teachers, principles, counselors, coaches, colleges and bosses.  What they can control is another teenager and this can over extension of control can be a form of abuse.

3) Control and monitoring is now easier

It is actually easy to smother someone without even realizing it.  We can text, MySpace message, Facebook stalk, call, IM, BBIM, email or ping.  I have often written about teens need to constantly be connected and abuse often stems from people needing to be connected to another more frequently.  Smothering, which might not be abusive, but is abnormal nonetheless, is so much easier in a digital age.

4) Obsessiveness can go unnoticed

Because everyone is connected all the time, teens might not even realize how obsessed or compulsive they are with the other person.  This allows the behavior to continue far longer and at a much higher rate than ever before.

5) Inequality breeds discomfort

This concept is nothing new.  I have heard young couples talk about inequality in relationships.  The idea of “who has the power” is something that teens today are much more aware of.  It is the reason men wait 3 days to call a girl back (need to be the one with the power) and no one wants to say “I love you” first.  This kind of thinking, can lead to abuse or unhealthy relationships.

6) Abuse does not only have to be physical

Abuse can be emotional, verbal, psychological or physical.  This is an important idea to explain to new couples.  Often times, someone in the relationship (see inequality above) feels uncomfortable, but is afraid to say anything because they think it is normal or would not qualify as abuse.

7) Lack of connection means they need more to connect on

The cotton candy friend epidemic is a huge issue because teens are not feeling as connected or intimate with their friends because all of their interaction is so superficial.  This can make young people, who are starving for closeness, crave a smothering or obsessive relationship more than previous generations.

Please print out this blogpost and discuss it with your kids or if your child is in a relationship, ask them to gauge their connection—this can be a great way for you to get to know your teens!

Take care and STAY SAFE!

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