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Never an Excuse
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Photo: Jake Levin
Young love is so sweet. There’s a sense of freshness, newness and excitement. Love letters, phone calls, flirting glances, first dates and first kisses.

But a not-so-romantic trend is on the rise in teen relationships.

A recent survey found that between 30 and 50 percent of young women have been battered by their boyfriends, and 40 percent of teens ages 14-17 know someone who has been abused by a date. It is estimated that one in three high school students have or will be abused by a romantic partner before graduating.

Abuse includes psychologically harmful words, physical abuse like slapping or kicking, rape and other forced sexual contact, coercion into physically and mentally damaging behaviours, and any type of force or intimidation that give one person physical or mental control over another person.

Domestic abuse is a sad reality for many adults, but studies are showing that abusive behaviour between couples is on the increase at a younger age. Recent studies showed that approximately seven percent of all murders are young women killed by violent partners, and girls ages 14 to 17 are the victims of 38 percent of all reported date rape cases.

Many abusive situations occur when drugs and alcohol are involved. However, this isn’t an excuse. Violence is violence, regardless of what spurs the actions.

Self-sacrificing and purely altruistic, God shows us an example of perfect love. Abuse, hate, violence and hurtful words have no place in any loving relationship. People do disagree and argue, circumstances cause stress and sinful humans mistreat each other, but there is never an excuse for violence.

How can you protect yourself and your friends? The first step is knowing the danger signs:
  • Extreme jealousy, including not allowing the other person to spend time with friends or family, and other controlling behaviors, such as dictating what the other person should look like, wear, how they should act or how they should spend their time or money.
     
  • Any kind of violence toward people, animals or objects: punching walls, yelling, verbal insults, name-calling, throwing objects or abusing animals.
     
  • If you are uncomfortable or feel that something is wrong, trust your instincts and get yourself or your friend out of the situation.
If you or a friend have been or are being abused by your significant other:
 
  • Get out. Get away from the person, out of the situation, and into a safe place. Refuse to be alone with that person until you have both received the help you need.
     
  • Tell someone. A parent, teacher, friend, the police or another person in a position of authority. If that person is unwilling or unable to help in a way that makes you feel safe and gets help for you and your abuser, tell others until you get the help you need.
     
  • Report the abuse. Record exactly what happened, how it happened, where it occurred and who may have witnessed it. Abusive individuals’ behaviour tends to progress as they age. Stopping the cycle of abuse early will help protect others from possible abuse.
     
  • Get help. Seek professional counseling from a pastor, guidance counselor or psychologist. Traumatic events from your youth can cause pain years into the future. The abuser needs to seek professional help as well.
     
  • Know the facts, understand your rights. No one deserves to be abused.
For more information about teen abuse and what you can do to prevent it, visit:

www.kidshealth.org or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.7233 (SAFE).

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By Lauren Schwarz. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines.


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