Recognizing and Responding to Teen Dating Violence Toolkit
3.1 Dating Violence is Abuse
Unfortunately, only about a third of teens involved in abusive relationships tell anyone. There are many reasons why a child may not confide in their parent. If our child chooses not to confide in us, it is not a reflection of us as parents or of our relationship with them. They may believe we will punish them because they weren’t supposed to be in a relationship in the first place. They may be embarrassed to tell us, fearing we will force them to end the relationship, or we will take away their independence. Young people believe that they can, or should be able to, handle things on their own. They do not want us to worry about them, look at them differently, or view their partner as a bad person. Victims of abuse often see their partner as a good person who made a mistake and the situation just got out of hand. They may even believe it is their fault their partner abused them.
“A person who threatens, intimidates, or controls their partner believes that their feelings and needs are what are most important.”
The perpetrator of the abuse may justify their behavior, portray it as loving, or blames the partner for the abusive behavior. A person who threatens, intimidates, or controls their partner believes that their feelings and needs are what are most important. Abusive behavior is learned. A person who is abusive may witness it in their own family, a friend’s relationship, or through social media, podcasts, or television. They may also learn it from their personal experience of trial and error. A person who is abusive learns that when they threaten, control, or intimidate their partner, it gets them what they want. They will continue this behavior to get their wants and needs met. Unfortunately, some people are abusive toward others simply because they enjoy exerting power over others.