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Dating abuse is a pattern of behavior, attitudes and beliefs that seek to exert power and control over another person in a dating relationship.A dating relationship is defined as a person involved in an intimate or romantic association with another person, regardless of length or exclusivity of the relationship. Inappropriate physical and sexual behavior gets plenty of media coverage when it occurs on and around college campuses or in the lives of politicians, but less so when it happens at the high school level.Yet abuse affects 1 out of every five female and one out of every 10 male high school students who date.In the above study, researchers found that girls who experienced both physical and sexual dating violence were almost twice as likely to attempt suicide as those who experience one or the other, and boys who experienced both were almost three times as likely.Two thirds of teenagers in abusive dating relationships never tell anyone about the abuse, so it is no surprise that many parents are unaware of the high rate of teen dating violence in this country, or don’t think it is an issue in their lives.

Tactics used in youth dating abuse include one or more of the following: There are many reasons why teens don’t tell parents about the abuse. Acknowledge that they are in a very difficult and scary situation. They may be embarrassed or ashamed, and may blame themselves. Tell them that you are concerned for their safety and well-being and that you are there for them. They may be afraid their parents will make them break up, convinced that it is their fault or that their parents will blame them or be disappointed in them, and afraid of losing privileges. Ask them what they would like to have happen..can you help them be safe. Educate yourself—access online resources, read, call Caring Unlimited for information and/or support for yourself! Miller points out later in the article that “few adolescents understand what a healthy relationship looks like.”If you’re worried about your child or a friend, or if you’re concerned your own relationship might be abusive, I encourage you to begin the process of extricating your loved one or yourself from the situation as soon as possible. For your safety, please be sure to access them on a public or secure computer, where the abuser cannot find out you viewed them.1. A Psych Central Self Quiz: Am I in an Abusive Relationship? Ask the Therapist: Advice from Psych Central on Getting Out of an Abusive Relationship 3. Heather’s Voice, a resource site in memory of Heather Norris, who was murdered by her abusive boyfriend: 5. For starters, abuse doesn’t just mean hitting or shoving.

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