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Hidden hurt: teen relationships

By EMILY SZPAK Staff Writer

People often steer clear of abusive relationship, but some signs are not as easy to notice as the generic ones. It is becoming more and more common for woman and men to be tied to an abusive relationship as verbal and mental abuse are dangerously becoming the new normal. Just because someone does not have bruises on his or her skin does not mean he or she is not being emotionally mistreated.

Luckily, people demonstrate personality traits early in relationships that can be identified as abusive traits. Many of the traits are common, and one may not be able to distinguish between personality flaws and abusive tendencies. Warning signs of an abusive personality include:

  1. Jealousy

  2. Controlling behavior

  3. Unrealistic expectations (perfect boy/girlfriend)

  4. Isolation

  5. Shifting blame in problems

  6. Hypersensitivity/low self-esteem

  7. Manipulative during sex

  8. Plays by gender roles

  9. Split personalities – public vs. private

  10. Hitting objects through anger

Men and women in these types of relationships will subtly become accustomed to the life they live with their abuser, walking on eggshells to avoid conflict. Acceptance is a dangerous component in emotionally unstable relationships because it is the equivalent to giving in. It is important to know that it is not okay, and change awaits you on the other side.

However, you cannot change an individual; they can only change for themselves. Get help for yourself instead, and acknowledge that you are not responsible for another person’s behavior.

Your confidence has probably been diminished, and you have been brainwashed into believing that your dreams are not within reach. The whole motive of an emotional abuser is to convince you to stay with them. Abusers are insecure, so they make sure that you are insecure so you have the idea that you are “lucky” to have them.

Most abusers do not intentionally hurt their loved ones; however, their own emotional issues have a strong influence on yours. If they have made you feel inferior and believe that you cannot amount to what you want, they are not treating you right.

“My friend’s boyfriend freaks out when other guys comment on her Instagram photos, or even just ‘likes’ them,” says an anonymous junior.

What I find the most alarming is that even in high school, I am noticing many abusive teens. Perhaps they are learning that this is what a relationship is supposed to be like. I think it is important that both boys and girls are taught that relationships are supposed to make you feel good about yourself. Teens have raging hormones and are confused, but it is no excuse for abuse.

I have observed so many instances where both boys and girls are possessive over their significant other, threatening any male or female that comes in contact with them, almost like animals in the wild.

I have close friends whose boyfriends make them delete every male contact in their phone, and question why they wear makeup to school. It is like relationships are turning into a dog-owner relationship. Under no means does your boyfriend or girlfriend have any say in how you run your own life, especially at such a young age.

“My friend’s boyfriend controls her whole life. She deleted every boy from her phone, and he has all her social media passwords. It’s crazy; I hate being around that,” says an anonymous junior.

I am well aware of the blind dangers behind an abusive relationship because I was in one myself. At the time, I didn’t consider the fact that I was being emotionally mistreated by a boy I liked so much. However, looking back on the relationship, I can recall some signs early on that I should have opened my eyes.

My first tell-tale sign was his “love at first sight” fantasy. He believed he was in love with me before he really knew me. At the time, it was flattering, harmless, and cute. I did not realize this was something that really drew me in.

Guilt had a big part in my relationship. I remember one specific instance early on in the relationship when he and I were sitting in the parking lot of Five Guys in the rain, mad my friends had called me. They asked if I wanted to go out to dinner with them. I had not seen them in a while, as I was in a new relationship and busy with him.

Before I even decided whether or not I was going, he cracked. He began yelling, screamed that I already decided to hang out with him for the night, and I could not go and ditch him now. Even though I would be seeing him every night that week, he demanded I stay with him instead. With it being our first real fight, I regretfully declined my friend’s invitation and soon, the calm, sweet-hearted boy was back.

That night stands out the most in my head, regardless of all the good times we had. I remember that night being the first night I was worried about things to come and taken off guard.

To be honest, I thought that was what it was like to have a boyfriend, so I ignored it, even though I wanted to see my friends.

When I was lucky enough to escape my ‘boyfriend responsibilities’ (which was rare), he made sure I did not enjoy myself. He would text me, complaining how he was sitting home and not having fun. Once he even made up a story that he was coughing up blood so I would spend my night worrying. Guilt was his most powerful weapon against me, and I was no match for it.

Eventually, as one could imagine, my friends had enough of my absence and we drifted apart. Without my friends, my boyfriend and I were inseparable, mostly because I had no other choice but to be. He became my security blanket and I clung to him.

When I complained about being alone, he would say things like, “Well, aren’t I enough for you?” and “I know I’m a horrible boyfriend.”

Yet again, he would shift the blame onto me, and I was guilty. Do not get me wrong, he was a sweet guy and made me feel special, but it was only in private. When we would go out with friends, he would not acknowledge their existence. He would stare straight ahead and give one word answers. It was like anyone else in my life was in the way of our relationship.

People would feel uncomfortable and question my desires to be with him, and I would give them the old “You don’t know him like I do!” In my mind, there was something I saw in him that no one else could see, but in reality, everyone else saw something in him that I was blind to.

When he left for college, I was lost. I had become this person whom I did not even know, and I could not function without him by my side. Everyone else had this life they had been living, and the one I built around my relationship was crumbling. I would let him so deep under my skin that a part of me was gone as well.

Emotional abuse is when your significant other makes it impossible to live without them, and that is what I underwent.

Once in college, he got the confidence he had been yearning for, and he did not need comfort from me anymore. He left me high and dry, lost, unable to function, and in a downward spiral. Of course, my grades suffered because my whole life had changed.

I decided that never again would I let someone or something have that much control over my life, dangling my happiness from a thin string. I am blessed that he broke up with me, because I was so blinded that I never would have had the strength to do it myself. I owe it to God and myself to never let it happen again.

Teens are so susceptible to abusive relationships because it is not an obvious, clear-cut thing. My ex-boyfriend and I had a great time together, but it was the hidden destruction that I could not see that was wrong.

I think lack of confidence is often overlooked in society. We focus so much on image that we often forget it is just as hard to be a teenager. Abusers are not born, they are brought up in our society. My ex-boyfriend did not know he was abusive, and to this day if you ask him, he would be completely confused at the idea.

One thing that everyone can agree on, though, is that my ex-boyfriend did not have high self-esteem or self-worth, and that is why making mine just as low was the only way for me to stay (in his mind).

It may be impossible to change teens’ confidence, and though it would be proactive, it is unrealistic. My main goal is to reach out to every boy and girl and let them know that this type of behavior is not normal to receive or give. Another human being cannot be owned, and relationships that are healthy can only strive off of trust.

I do not care how cute she is, or how popular he is, or how much she loves you. You deserve better. Be enough of a person for yourself so you do not need anyone else to make you happy. I, myself, am still working on that.

I was lucky enough to get out in time and suffer minimal emotional and psychological abuse. Some others are not fortunate enough, and I think this article would not be complete without me addressing physical and sexual abuse. These are not far from emotional abuse, so do not think you are in the clear. I got out in time to never have to undergo physical pain.

To make a long explanation short, it is not okay for someone you love to put their hands on you forcefully. It is not okay for someone you love to touch you inappropriately if you are not comfortable with it. Do not let anyone tell you it is okay, do not ever feel pressured into sexually pursuing something you do not want to do, and do not ever tolerate a man or woman laying a hand on you out of anger. They will do it again, even if they say they will not. That relationship is toxic and you need to get out as fast as you can. Call a family member, friend or hotline. There is a way out.

If you or someone you know is being domestically abused, call the national domestic violence hotline: 1-800-799-7233

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