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Violence in teen relationships is as common as in adult relationships. But it's harder to recognize her, because a girl in love rarely complains, convinced that she has met the love of her life. What if there is physical or psychological abuse in a teenage relationship? What are the reasons for this phenomenon?

Violence in teen relationshipsis a fact. There are a lot of letters like the one below on internet forums, and the statistics are sounding the alarm.

I've been dating my boyfriend for 2 years. Now we are in the third junior high school and until recently everything was like a fairy tale. We spent a lot of time together. More than once, I even slept at his house (don't be mistaken that we were doing something!) And everything was great. Until some time … He's been acting weird lately. He is jealous of anything, I can not do anything more, talk to another boy, because there is a scandal soon. When I wanted to break up with him, he threatened to regret it… I don't know what to do. Help!

According to American research, every third teenager has experienced some form of dating violence, probably Polish data do not differ much. As in adult relationships, approx. 90% of cases of violence in teenage relationships are boys. In the initial phase of the relationship, it is most often psychological violence, which is usually a prelude to physical and sexual violence. But even if the border is never crossed, there is nothing to worry about, because psychological violence wreaks great havoc: it degrades the victim's self-esteem, making them insecure and internally mutilated.

Psychological abuse: control most often comes from jealousy

- The basic form of psychological violence is control resulting from jealousy - explains Agnieszka Czapczyńska, psychologist. - The boy takes over the girl's life. He controls her at every turn, explaining that he is worried about her and that he cannot live without her.

My boyfriend is insanely jealous. He checks me at every step, I can't go anywhere without him, my Gadu-Gadu archive is constantly being viewed, as is my mobile phone. Sometimes he can raze me to the ground if I do something wrong. He is rude and terrible. He doesn't want to go to parties with me because he says I will meet someone and leave them. I am not allowed to talk to my colleagues. Even with my friends, I can't get away by myself. Hehe gives me no peace. I've tried to break up so many times, but he scares him if I leave him, he'll kill himself.

Unfortunately, the perfect breeding ground for this type of behavior is the myth of romantic love in our culture. Literature and cinema confirm the belief prevailing among young people that great love requires absolute sacrifice and the renunciation of everything. There is no teenager in the world who would not dream of such a relationship. Recently, I saw a sentence on a wall: "I love Matt. I am able to die for it. " It's scary, but this is how young girls understand love, and indeed they are often able to give up everything: family, friends, interests and passions, just to keep a boyfriend with them and feel that they are loved. Both sides of the relationship often have internal consent to show possessiveness and control, because that is their perception of love. In the name of this love, the boy restricts the girl's freedom and exercises power over her. And all this with the consent and support of the peer community for whom such behavior is the norm. So with time, what begins as "great love" becomes a prison for the girl. Fearing the wrath of her beloved, she herself limits her rights. He isolates himself from his peers and family, abandons extracurricular activities. And the more lonely she is, the more she becomes dependent on the feelings and opinions of her partner, who may become the only important person in her life over time.

When physical abuse occurs in teenage relationships

Physical violence is rarely a sobering girl. Usually, she then starts looking to blame herself for the boy's behavior.

Some time ago he hit me. I have forgiven. After a while it happened again, I forgave again. Now all I have to do is say something wrong and he is already throwing himself at me. I have to be careful with every word. He doesn't abuse me too much, usually I don't even have a scratch, but he tugs, pushes, tugs at my hair. I know I should leave him, but I can't. I love him so much. On the other hand, it is exhausting me. I have nothing to say about this relationship. He knows that he can do whatever he likes, because I will forgive him anyway. It goes to the point where I feel guilty when he beats me up and I'm sorry for upsetting him.

Constantly brainwashed, lonely (because she will not complain to her mother), naively believes that when the anger is over, the boy will be good to her again. - These stories are very similar to each other - says Agnieszka Czapczyńska. - Young people meet, for example, at a party or on vacation. Love explodes suddenly, fromfirst sight. They date, and after a few days he already assures that he has found the woman of his life. She is in cloud nine that a knight on a white horse appeared and chose her. He is wonderful, caring, gives her the tenderness she needed so badly. He walks her to school, sends her text messages, more and more over time. She does not part with the phone, she is still waiting for a signal from him. The next stage: he begins to show anger, he is jealous - for friends, then for friends, free time, interests. She gives up everything as long as her boyfriend is satisfied. She becomes his slave. She dresses the way he wants, and does what he tells her to do. It excuses his outbursts and disguises the bruises from her family when he beats her. He endures insults and humiliation, because he knows that they will be followed by apologies, flowers, and assurances of love.


Violence in a teenage relationship: disturbing signals

The most obvious are the traces of physical abuse that the girl tries to hide or for which she has a strange explanation. There may be a sudden change in her behavior. He begins to avoid the current company, gives up his favorite activities, ceases to develop his passions. Her style of dress, habits and preferences are changing. A victim of violence may have difficulty concentrating, depressed mood, may show anxiety over the sound of the telephone, become depressed. In some cases, the girl ceases to care for her appearance, masks the figure with clothes, and rapidly loses weight or grows fat. When asked by her parents about her boyfriend, she defends him and justifies him.

Why does a teenager endure violence in a relationship?

Why are girls stuck in toxic relationships? For the same reason adult women do it. For fear, for the sake of misunderstood love, for fear of loneliness and the reaction of those around you.

My boyfriend can't contain his jealousy. I forbid me to wear necklines. I agreed to it. The second issue is skirts. I don't wear them myself, but I don't see anything wrong with it, but he makes fun of every girl on the street who wears a shorter skirt. I can't wear high heels to school or red clothes, because he says that's the color that bitches wear. I'm not allowed to make up at all. It does not allow me to go out with my friends or go on school trips. If I do something wrong, he screams, takes offense, and I have to apologize to him. He gets along with me. I'm always the worse one. I am going to college in a year. He wants to study in Poznań. I asked what would happen if I got to Gdańsk - he replied that it would be the end.

Teenagers do not yet have material dependence on their partner, but an emotional bondshe is extremely strong. A thirsty, unformed girl is easy to manipulate, and it is also easy to impose on her a model of relationship with which she can easily identify. "The girls say that what keeps them in a devastating relationship is a mix of contradictory teachings," explains the psychologist. - They experience repeated cycles of violence many times in order to return to their former closeness with the wrongdoer during the honeymoon phase. They come back with promises of improvement and compassion for their partner (who often threatens to do something to himself), and sometimes simply out of fear (when he threatens to hurt her or her loved ones). Behind this are such beliefs as: "my love will change him", "he behaves like this because no one loved him as a child", "he will change as soon as he stops drinking". The reason for staying in such a relationship is also the fear of breaking up, the fear that another partner will be found, and the lack of support from adults, who are usually not told about their suffering.


You are a victim of relationship violence if your boyfriend:

  • blame you for your own problems
  • wants to make all the decisions for you, tells you what to do, how to dress and act
  • always checks where you are and what you are doing (continuous text messages, phone calls)
  • shows strong jealousy and treats you as his property
  • is oversensitive and overreacts to insignificant matters or exaggerates minor problems
  • puts pressure on you or forces you to be sexually active
  • expresses anger in an explosive way, e.g. by throwing or destroying objects in front of you
  • manipulates you
  • isolates you from friends, family, classmates
  • threatens to use force against yourself, you, other people or your pets
  • challenges you and humiliates you
  • uses profanity as a form of adoration
  • depreciates your self-esteem, e.g. by criticizing your appearance
  • pokes you, pulls you, pushes you

Why is a teenager abusing relationship violence?

There is no clear answer to why young people use violence. The most frequently mentioned reason is jealousy resulting from the lack of a sense of security and social consent to such behavior (because love explains everything!). Cultural tradition and group pressure are of great importance. Young men are taught (through home and media patterns) that masculinity means strength, domination, and control. Therefore, rigid beliefs about masculinity and femininity are widespread among adolescents. Boys want to rule in a relationship - girls feel goodobligated to submit. In addition, alcohol and drugs are often added, which strengthen aggressive behavior and at the same time justify her from the boy in the eyes of the girl ("he was not himself", "he did not know what he was doing"). It happens that a boy who had a deficit in the sense of security in his childhood does not cope with anxiety in his first relationship. The state of being in love makes him fear both of losing his independence and of being abandoned. Family models are a contributing factor: a boy may have experienced violence in his childhood or witness the father's abuse of his mother, and such a person enters adulthood with the conviction that this is the norm. - However, this factor should not be overestimated - emphasizes Agnieszka Czapczyńska. - A similar myth is the claim that victims of violence come from families where there was violence. In my work at the Blue Line, I met a lot of girls who had perfectly normal homes yet were victims of violence. It can happen to each of us, because every girl, every woman longs for true love. This is normal. Only the cultural stereotypes of love are abnormal - they make us enter into sick relationships, from which it is so difficult to break free.


How to help your child?

If you know or suspect your daughter is a victim of abuse, don't underestimate it. Proceed gently. Don't make a fuss, don't make her break off the relationship immediately, as this can only provoke resistance. Try to control your own emotions and talk calmly. It's good to ask your child open questions like: "You look very sad lately, maybe you want to talk?", "I noticed that Tomek is calling you even at night, it does not bother you?" When talking to your teen, you can start by offering her expert reading to help her see her own situation from a distance, or by discussing a movie with a similar story. Convince your daughter that you are not her enemy, that you play in the same team. Let her reveal all her emotions (including the good ones) about her boyfriend and talk about them. If your teenager still wants to stay in a relationship that destroys her, be sure to seek professional help. Remember that if your daughter's boyfriend threatens to hurt her, you should always assume that he can fulfill that threat.

Addresses of centers for victims of domestic violence:

"Zdrowie" monthly

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