Starting young to prevent dating abuse
Some survivors believe it was their job to maintain the relationship and support their partner, feeling they failed when the relationship ended, according to group participants in the Domestic Abuse Project in Minnesota. To suggest that a survivor seek out counseling could send a false message that there’s something wrong with them, Raja stresses.
With time, these survivors see the abuse as something that has happened to them but that doesn’t have to define them. However, before you move into a new relationship, it’s valuable to “take some time to process the trauma you’ve just been through,” she says.
Abuse is a learned behavior, Raja says, which means until it is unlearned, a person is likely to have a pattern of abusing multiple partners.
“There is hope that people can change their behaviors, but the caveat is, they have to want to change,” Raja says.
In my last article in October, I focused on the prevalence of domestic violence against men – a sensitive and difficult issue for many people (Violence against males, Sec Ed, October 2016: R).
In this article, I want to look more closely at what’s happening to girls.
Processing trauma can occur in a variety of ways: support groups, meditation, somatic experiencing, eye movement desensitization and reprocessing or EMDR, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and self-care, like social activities and volunteering, self-esteem building and other techniques. “We’d like to be able to say, ‘Do these three things and you’re good,’ but abusive partners are, by definition, manipulative.
Several US studies (Black, Basile, Breiding et al, 2010; Foshee, Mc Naughton Reyes et al, 2013; Roberts, Klein & Fisher, 2003) found that teens who suffer dating abuse are more likely to experience alcoholism, eating disorders, promiscuity, thoughts of suicide and violent behaviour.
Court-mandated anger management counseling or other forced interventions may not effectively bring about those changes. Respect your own level of readiness for a new relationship.
While abuse is a traumatic experience, “It is one experience, and to put that on every [potential] partner you encounter is also a problem,” Raja says.
Karen Sullivan continues her focus on violence in teen relationships with a look at the hard facts of abusive relationships, the impact on young women, and what we might be able to do about it in schools In September, I began a series of articles focusing on domestic violence, how it is affecting young people, and the increasing incidence of violence within teen relationships (PSHE: Relationship violence, Sec Ed, September 2016: DTg XN).
Although domestic abuse, as an issue, has received a great deal of attention over the past few years with a multitude of awareness-raising campaigns and supportive measures put in place within the community, it is clear that we need to target young people and ensure that they have the tools available to put a stop to it.
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For example, according to a 2009 Refuge and You Gov survey, more than half of young women aged 18 to 21 reported experiencing at least one abusive incident from a boyfriend, husband or partner.