Physical, emotional, verbal, and sexual abuse are some of the different types of abuse that can be found within a relationship. The purpose of this paper is to provide a review of adolescent dating aggression, and to define, compare and contrast different points of view. The author of the novel Faultline, Janet Tashjian, describes a series of events in the life of Becky, the main character of the story, where she is getting involved into an abusive relationship with Kip, presenting all the warning signs that every adolescent should know.
This story represents the millions of adolescents that are in this same situation. I will be presenting real cases from different sources to demonstrate that adolescent dating aggression is a serious problem for many teenagers. Yet like other forms of aggression, warning signs are often present that a young couple may be at risk. By understanding these precursors we can help adolescents avoid problematic situations and instead develop healthy dating relationships that will set in place a solid foundation for satisfying relationships throughout life.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in four teenagers report being verbally, emotionally, physically or sexually abused in a dating relationship. The issue of dating violence is so critical that it was included in the 2005 reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, along with the crimes of sexual assault, domestic violence and stalking. Statistics indicate that males who are exposed to domestic violence as children are twice as likely to be abusive in their own relationships. Many teens use cell phones and computers as tools of control and abuse in dating relationships. There have been millions of reports of abuse in a relationship; one of these cases was reported by Nicky who was 12 when she fell in love with Richard who was 13. What Nicky has to show for their years together are a chipped tooth, a nose bent several degrees by his fist, three children “all of whom were born before their due dates because of beatings”, she says, and emotional scars that are hard to fathom in someone so young. She shares her story to Los Angeles Times:
My earliest memory of abuse? I was 13. When he went into high school, I was still in junior high and he didn’t trust me. One time I was wearing this see-through blouse. I had a slip on underneath it, because my parents taught me how to dress. [But] he got mad, and he pushed me on the ground and started calling me a bitch and everything. I thought, `Well he’s just mad, I shouldn’t have worn that.’ I couldn’t go home. What was I gonna tell my mom? So I went to school and I put on my P.E. clothes and that is what I wore all day.
In the last two decades, domestic violence has emerged from the black hole of taboo subjects to become highly visible. And what has long been happening between spouses or adult lovers is now recognized as a problem for teen-agers as well. Surveys show that about 28% of high school- and college-age students are in abusive relationships, roughly the same proportion as adults. But while adults have shelters and well-publicized hot lines, adolescents typically have only each other, if that. They often cannot or will not turn to adults for help and may not even talk to their peers. Young girls and women often do not know how to get out of abusive situations. More schools are providing programs to teach teens the warning signs of abusive relationships and provide them with the tools they need to leave violent and controlling partners. Some people think that dating violence is increasing because many girls are afraid to stand up to an aggressive and controlling boy.
Others blame the violent and sexual content in the media as a contributing factor in dating violence. According to a New York Times article, “The high incidence of adolescent abuse distresses Barrie Levy, a Santa Monica therapist and a founder of the Southern California Coalition for Battered Women”. Levy, who edited the book Dating Violence: Young Women in Danger became aware of the problem in 1982 during a domestic violence education project in Los Angeles-area secondary schools. “Our focus was on the development of an education program that would target adolescents, thinking that the way to start dealing with domestic violence was presumably before it started,” Levy says.
Violence in adolescent dating relationships is a large-scale problem, and may result in long-term trauma and psychological aftermath for victims. I provided some data, statistics, facts and opinion about this issue. An abusive relationship can be prevented if parents, teachers and counselors talk to the adolescents about the warning signs and how get away from that abusive relationship. The novel Faultline is a great example that can be used to teach teenagers about this serious topic.