The Alabama Coalition Against Domestic Violence (ACADV) defines domestic violence as physical, mental, sexual or emotional abuse in an intimate relationship. It occurs when one person uses abusive tactics to gain power and control over a partner or former partner.
First and foremost, if you are in a situation that you feel puts you or anyone else in danger, seek help immediately.
One of the most unrecognized instances of domestic violence occurs among dating teenagers. This happens for several reasons, but on top of the list is that young dating couples often don’t know what to expect of the dating experience or how to handle their emotions. It is important to set boundaries and expectations with kids from a young age, before they ever begin dating so they know what to look for and don’t become victims of violent dating scenarios.
Young men should be taught that treating their female partners with respect and kindness should be a character trait of masculinity. Often times young men believe that they should have the ability, or even the right, to “control” their partners in any way necessary. They also tend to believe that in order to be men, they should be physically aggressive rather than attentive and supportive of their girlfriends.
Young women should be taught that jealousy, possessiveness and physical abuse has no part to play in a healthy relationship. They need to know that abuse is not normal and that they have a trusted adult to come to in case such characteristics exist in their relationship. Often they quickly become afraid of leaving an abusive situation. These fears can lead them to not talk to a parent or guardian about abuse if not taught otherwise.
There are early warning signs in abusive situations. Teens need to be aware of what those warning signs are so they can avoid such relationships.