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How Can Adults Help Teens in Unhealthy Dating Relationships?
Healthy relationships are essential for overall well-being, especially for young people. Occasional arguments are expected, but never should there be any physical, emotional, or psychological harm done to anyone in the relationship.
This can be particularly tricky for teenagers, who are still at a time in their lives in which they are coming into their own and figuring things out. Think about it: As a teenager (and even as a young adult), you were still developing, physically and mentally, even if you believed that you were “grown enough” to do and make certain decisions. Some of the decisions you made probably weren’t the wisest (I can definitely think of a few occasions in which I didn’t make the best decisions), but there were also decisions you made that ended up being the best for you at that time as well.
More often than not, when you look back, many of the decisions you made were influenced by many factors, including your peers, the media, entertainment, and your home environment. When we constantly see something or are told something, regardless of it being “good” or “bad”, we come to find that our lives and decision making begin to become shaped by it.
February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month, a national campaign to raise awareness about the impact of violence in teen and young adult dating relationships, and to share ways to help teens and young adults develop healthier dating relationships. While young men are often victims of teen and young adult dating violence, young women are more likely to be victims.
How can adults help teens and young adults in unhealthy dating relationships? Here are five recommendations:
Mental illness and experience of intimate partner violence: A call for submissions
[Trigger Warning: Discussion of violence and abuse against people with mental illness, particularly intimate partner violence]
Some of you may have seen an anonymous message I received yesterday from a person with mental illness who has been experiencing intimate partner violence. Unfortunately this is far from the first correspondence of this nature I’ve received through the zine, and unfortunately, this doesn’t surprise me. People with mental illness are are at the same time both a population stigmatized as ‘violent’, ‘unstable’ and ‘dangerous’, but actually more likely to be harmed than to harm:
- People with mental illness are more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime.
- People with ‘severe mental illnesses’ (Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder or Psychosis) are 2 ½ times more likely to be attacked, raped or mugged than the general population.
- People with mental illness (across diagnosis and gender identity) are more likely to have experienced intimate partner violence than the general population.
- Intimate partner violence is the leading cause of morbidity and mortality for women of childbearing age worldwide, with the main contribution being from the mental health consequences of abuse.
It’s not always that intimate partner violence itself triggers mental illness, there is also overwhelming evidence that people with existing mental illness are more likely to be victimized by an intimate partner. This relates to evidence suggesting that people with other disabilities such as physical and learning disabilities are also more likely to experience intimate partner violence.
I’m hoping to write an article in more detail on this issue to be published online. If you’ve been following the zine for a while, you’ll know that I have lived experience of mental illness, a pretty strong academic background in mental health research, and I really value lived experience as an evidence base (like, above all other evidence).
With that in mind, I don’t have first-hand lived experience of intimate partner violence. If you do and identify as mentally ill and wouldn’t mind me incorporating quotes from you into my article, please get in contact. All communications will be under the assumption of anonymity unless you express a preference otherwise. I welcome any comments or insight you may be able to share with me but here’s some ideas, each of which may vary in relevance to you depending on your experience:
- Do you feel like there’s a direction of causation for you? (Did your experiences of intimate partner violence predate your mental illness or the other way round? Do you feel like your illness has made you more vulnerable to exploitation?)
- Are there any ways in which you feel that being mentally ill changes your experience of intimate partner violence? (Does or did your partner ‘use your illness against you’ e.g. suggest nobody would believe you if you report your abuse or exploit it as emotional or psychological manipulation? Do you feel more or less resilient than if you weren’t mentally ill?)
- If you are a survivor of intimate partner violence, was your mental health a barrier to finding support?
- Has your abuse ever been noticed by a mental health / health care provider? Were they helpful?
- Do you feel that abuse survivor services are sensitive to or appropriately equipped to deal with your mental health needs?
If you are currently experiencing abuse and need signposting for support services, would like advice, or just someone to listen, please get in touch and I’ll try my hardest to help.
Thanks and love, xo
[Trigger Warning: Discussion of violence and abuse against people with mental illness, particularly intimate partner violence]
I just want to clarify: “intimate partner violence” doesn’t just cover physical aggressions.
I’ve had a couple of people write to me with words to the effect of “I’m not sure if this is intimate partner violence but…” and then detailing what is clearly to me as an objective observer sexual, emotional, psychological, verbal and economic abuse.
If your partner restricts where you can go, what you can do, who you can see or what you can wear - that’s an act of violence
If your partner controls your access to or use of money - that’s an act of violence
If your partner threatens you or intimidates you - that’s an act of violence
If your partner initiates sexual activity with you without your consent - that’s an act of violence
If your partner humiliates you or deliberately undermines your self-esteem in private or in public - that’s an act of violence
An intimate partner doesn’t have to lay a hand on you to be violent towards you. Your experiences are valid and real.
Stay strong, xo
[abuse, domestic violence] Regarding Abuse Victims and Seeking Help
Nothing brings out cruelty in otherwise kind people quicker than the scent of helplessness in an abuse victim.
Because “kind” people want to help.
And if you show weakness, if you’re not “strong”, if you aren’t a perfect victim who’s ready to lose everything and is capable of “independence”, then maybe this helpful, kind person can’t “fix” it/you.
And that makes THEM feel helpless. Weak. Like you.
And we all know what happens to people Like That.
We live in an abuse culture, and a victim-blaming culture.
Note: I was never as much of a raging misogynist as I was while I was in an abusive relationship. I wasn’t like Those Women. I had strength, agency, choices, right? I caused everything that had ever happened to me, because if not…if not…well. Everyone knows what Those People are like. right? They just keep coming back for more. We all know their fate.
An unsilent victim is a contagious disease, a harbinger of an unjust world, a Pandora’s Box of ugly truths like: bad things happen to people who don’t deserve it.
We must stamp them out, silence them, strangle the words in their throats before we have to see the parallels in our own lives, our own loved ones, to recognize the facilitation of our own abuse in the things and people that bring us joy.
And that is the trap we live in.
What Honorée Fanonne Jeffers wrote! ('A Good Man Does Not Murder Somebody')
“There’s been a lot of talk about the murder-suicide involving Jovan Belcher’s killing his girlfriend Kassandra Perkins and then killing himself. What concerns and disturbs me is that people are framing this tragedy in terms of a “loving guy” who “just snapped.”
What you need to know—if you don’t remember anything else about this tragedy—is that this type of situation doesn’t involve a nice guy just snapping. I’m a trained battered women’s counselor, although it’s been nearly two decades since I’ve been active.
Murders like this don’t involve just snapping. They involve a long-term, ongoing pattern of physical abuse that escalates over time. And so, please do not be fooled by the smiling pictures you see on the web. Unless this was a very miraculous situation unlike the other extremely similar domestic violence situations that end in tragedy, Jovan Belcher had been belittling, hitting, pushing, punching, threatening, choking, and possibly even raping Kassandra Perkins before he finally took her life.
And their families were ignoring and smoothing it over and “counseling” the young couple that “all couples have problems” and they had been telling Kassandra “don’t leave your child to grow up without a father like so many other Black children.” Over time, ongoing abuse and subsequent reuniting allows the batterer to become desensitized to the repercussions of his behavior and the dangerous scenarios he creates.
Like all physical abusers, he most likely was a narcissist incapable of understanding and unfeeling to the pain inflicted by his behavior. And because he was a sports figure surrounded by adoration and making lots of money, he was able to tell himself his behavior was okay.
I know some folks really want to feel sorry for Jovan Belcher. And that’s completely okay. Human empathy is a wonderful thing. But you can feel sorry for another human being without his being a good person. So stop saying Jovan Belcher was ‘a good man,’ a ‘good father,’ and a ‘good son.’ He was a murderer.
A good man does not murder somebody.
A good father does not murder his child’s mother, leaving that child motherless.
A good son wouldn’t murder someone in front of his own mother and leave her to pick up the pieces.”
Honorée Fanonne Jeffers, is a Black feminist award-winning poet who is also an Associate Professor of English at the University of Oklahoma. Her publications include The Gospel of Barbecue (2000), won the Stan and Tom Wick poetry prize and was a 2001 Paterson Poetry prize finalist. Her collections also include Outlandish Blues (2003) and Red Clay Suite (2007), which received second prize in the Crab Orchard Review’s open competition. poetry has appeared in the American Poetry Review, Callaloo, the Iowa Review, Ploughshares,and Prairie Schooner. Her work has been anthologized in numerous volumes, includingRoll Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art (2002) and These Hands I Know: Writing About the African American Family (2002). Jeffers has also published fiction in the Indiana Review, the Kenyon Review, the New England Review, and Story Quarterly. She is one of three featured poets in Aishah Shahidah Simmons’s award-winning NO! The Rape Documentary.
[PLEASE SIGNAL BOOST] So I'm publishing a paper with a Sociology professor at my uni
[TRIGGER WARNING: MENTION OF VIOLENCE, ABUSE, SEXUAL ASSAULT, HETEROSEXISM, CISSEXISM]
and it’s focusing on research I’ve done in the past with queer experiences of domestic /intimate partner violence.
So here’s where I need tumblr’s help again.
I need some more responses. This is for a publishable manuscript yes, but I’ve already presented this data twice in different settings and all respondents’ anonymity has been maintained.
Essentially we would conduct an interview either through e-mail, or skype, IM of some sort, or however you prefer. And in said interview I would ask a series of questions about your own gender/sexual identity and your (ex) partner’s(s’). I’ll ask about the extent of abuse, so please know that in advance you would be free at any given moment to stop responding or to terminate the interview with no questions asked. Your safety, livelihood, and happiness are my main concern. Which is why I’m trying to publish this data.
I’ll also ask questions about social service programs to see which (if any) you reached out to for help, how comfortable you did or did not feel, and what sort of responses you get from peers/family/friends/co-workers/associates/etc. when you (if you do/have/are going to) talk about said abuse (abusive relationship).
You can remain completely anonymous if you like and the most that will happen is I may quote something in particular that you say in the body of the paper in which case I could say anything from “one respondent said…” to “(insert first name here) responded with…”
Please if you are queer (and I mean that in its most general sense…lesbian, gay, bi, pan, asexual, anything at all), trans*, or both and have experienced intimate partner violence AND WOULD BE WILLING TO TALK ABOUT IT WITH A RESEARCHER (yours truly) then PLEASE let me know.
Also signal boost this like a MOTHERfucker.
also if you have questions about this project or more general questions about IPV/Domestic abuse please don’t hesitate to contact me.
if you need someone to talk to, or you want to reach out to someone who works with an organization who CARES ABOUT US AND OUR COMMUNITY then please contact me or check out theNetwork/laRed (a bilingual (spanish/english) network focusing on queer and trans victims and survivors of abuse).
(ask for personal e-mail).
seriously please signal boost.
(TW: Intimate Partner Violence) If a man did that to me I would *insert countermeasure*
I hear women say this a lot. I used to be one of them. Then I got a little older and learned about the complexities of personal relationships. Unfortunately, we live in a society where any one of us could find ourselves in an abusive relationship.
So right now, I feel that when we say “couldn’t be me” we’re ignoring that. And we’re portraying victims as people who fit the criteria to be abused.
When women say:
- I’m too strong
- I love myself too much
- I can’t be controlled
What are we saying about the victims? Are victims and survivors not strong enough? Easily controllable? Seems to me that it’s a way to deflect and blame victims.
I’m sure that the women who say this mean well. But that doesn’t negate the aftereffects of their words.
I’m an atheist so I have no god to pray to. So I hope that one day I don’t find myself in an abusive relationship that I can’t leave.
(TW: Abusive Relationships, Rape)
Maybe I’m alone in this but I think that the narrative of a woman trying to trap a man by getting pregnant is common in our popular culture. They are portrayed as gold diggers or women desperate for love from the wrong man. The women who lie about taking the pill or poking holes in condoms are wrong, wrong, wrong. I don’t support their behavior at all.
We hear about the men who physically and emotionally abuse their partners. However, how often do we hear about men controlling a woman’s reproduction in a relationship? Men who monitor menstrual cycles? Don’t use condoms to get their partner pregnant? Not allowing their partner to use any other form of contraception? Men who rape in order to impregnate their partners?
So sure, these two scenarios seek to achieve the same goal - a baby that one person wants and the other person doesn’t. But let’s not pretend that the context is the same.
“[Trigger Warning for graphic descriptions of intimate partner violence/violence against people with disabilities] The West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that disabled victims are more likely to be blamed for their abuse, because they are perceived as difficult to be around or care for, and "caregiver stress" is considered a legitimate excuse for bad behavior. These social myths are no different from abuser jargon that habitually accuses those harmed of provoking the abuse. Because of the subtleties involved in abusing a disabled partner, people with disabilities might not identify themselves as abused, and rarely receive support from a society that lionizes the abusive partner as self-sacrificing for dating crips. It is common for batterers to "target punch" their victims to avoid getting caught. With an able-bodied partner, this might mean hitting her torso where bruises will not show. With a blind partner, this could mean putting obstacles in her path so she will trip and fall. With a frail partner who is too neurologically impaired to deny consent, this could mean using body weight to hold her down during sex even while she tries to resist by stiffening her body and pushing weakly with her forearms, then forcing sex in a way that physically harms her. Batterers of able-bodied partners may target punch by punching a woman on her torso instead of her face, but they still have committed a crime recognized by the state; when battering disabled victims, physical harm can often easily be inflicted o a disabled partner without punching at all, and even with murderous consequences such cases are hard to prosecute. In one court case, a woman with MS was murdered by a caregiver who fed her a bagel, knowing she could not swallow on her own and would choke to death; in another case, a man with chemical sensitivities was assaulted by his former partner when she intentionally and angrily sprayed him with scented products to cause him physical injury. Advocates working with disabled survivors must first refine what constitutes IPV, tailoring their definition to an individual's disabilities just as the abuser has probably done. Abusers will often use the minimum amount of force required to maintain power and control, and this minimum amount of force used on a disabled person--though it may cause substantial injury--might not fit neatly into legal definitions of abuse. Coercion and threats to a disabled partner could involve threatening to withdraw basic support, an act that can be more dangerous to a person with a disability than a violent beating. Intimidation tactics might include harming or mistreating a service animal. Economic abuse might include embezzling funds from a disabled partner who can't fill out a deposit slip, or giving her lavish gifts of adapt equipment the state won't pay for to encourage her dependence. Physical abuse might consist of rough handling when transferring someone out of a wheelchair, or over-medicating. Sexual abuse might include forced abortion, inappropriate touching during bathing or dressing, or put-downs about a disabled person's sexuality. Neglect can include withholding care, medication, or life-sustaining attention. Many forms of abuse against people with disabilities, particularly those against some of the most vulnerable groups, such as the developmentally disabled, involve discrediting a person's own voice when she tries to convey her experience. Emotional abuse might take the form of denying the person's feelings by attributing injuries to the disability itself ("You're just touch-sensitive! That didn't hurt.")”—Peggy Munson, Seeking Asylum: On Disability & Violence, in The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities
I was wondering if you'd seen the "Boyfriend Went Vegan" PETA advert and what do you think of it (from a feminist perspective)?
TW: Domestic Violence
They are using domestic violence to try and make people go vegan. It is beyond offensive that they are making a joke out of domestic violence/violence against women. They have a long fucking history of sexist advertising and this is honestly their most offensive ad. It is beyond disgusting.
TW: Abusive Relationships
It’s scary to think that any one of us could be abused. It doesn’t matter what we wear, if we have degrees, etc it could happen.
Folks thought it was surprising that Kelly Rowland was in abusive relationship as if there is a type of woman who can be abused.
By creating a type who is prone to abuse it dulls our senses and lulls us into a false sense of security. This is not to say that we should be so hypervigilant to the point where we can’t function. But we should be aware of our reality so we can actively and effective combat the issues.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month
- One out of every three women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.
- More than three women are murdered by their partners in the United States every day. For women who are pregnant, homicide is the leading cause of death.
- Women between the ages of 16 and 24 have the highest risk of being victimized by intimate partner violence.
- Of teenagers who have experienced a physical assault by an intimate partner, less than three percent reported the incident to an authority figure such as the police, a social worker, a counselor, or a teacher.