Love and trust should not equal fear. As we jump into the start of the summer, the beautiful purple flowers stand proud, and the color purple is known nationally as a symbol of courage for domestic violence survivors. We are brought together this Memorial Day weekend in remembering and honoring sacrifices and freedoms.
Sadly, in our communities, teen dating violence and unhealthy relationships among teens are becoming more prevalent than ever. According to SafeAtSchools.org, there have been at least 20 teen dating abuse murders in California in the last three years. As teens seek love and attention from their peers and dating relationships develop, so does teen-dating violence.
Both boys and girls can become victims, but the abuse usually happens in different ways, and boys tend to injure girls more severely. Teens are especially vulnerable—some may not understand the power and control they can wield, and others may thrive on the attention, even if it is ugly.
Operation For HOPE Foundation spoke with a male teen survivor about a past relationship that was filled with verbal and emotional abuse.
My partner was emotionally abusive. It hurt more than I believe any physical violence could, as it always led to who could get the most hurtful word in to hurt the other. We wouldn’t text but we would call as to say the words directly to each other. Now, looking back, this relationship was toxic. I did bad things, too, in our relationship as the pain I was feeling really hurt. She really wanted to cause me great pain.
Now, in the light, we both had such terrible tempers and I am thankful I am not in this relationship and that it has stopped. It was like pouring gasoline on a fire. One minute, it was all about love and the next, everything was about hate. We were so close to one another and not able to make it stop. I never told anyone as I wanted to keep it private and I wasn’t willing to share. I always acted like everything was OK.
But in the end, this caused me to be depressed and I attempted to take my own life. Today, after receiving professional help and with the support and love of my friends, family and especially my mom, I now talk things out and I don’t hold them in. I am still not the same, as this has caused great impacts on my life. I am slowly regaining myself and with the love of my family and friends, I am able to talk through my emotions and really appreciate even more my many good relationships with others.
There are ways that we as a community can help educate teens about unhealthy relationships. It starts in our homes by setting an example for our teens to follow, and should continue in our schools, organizations and larger communities. It’s important to speak to our children about healthy relationships, mutual respect and trust. It’s also important to create awareness about dating violence and to learn if they have witnessed any of their friends or fellow students become victims of dating violence.
Our children should feel safe and connected to school. Let’s make our schools healthier and safer for all students by having prevention efforts in place and resources available that they can turn to. We can all help by reviewing our school policies on dating violence and making sure our children are familiar with school resources including teachers, counselors, social workers and nurses.
Remember love and trust should not equal fear. Each of us has a role and by stopping a problem before it starts—we all deserve to stand proud!